Born into a family of mixed ancestry in Sarawak, Malaysia, the formative years of Joseph N. Goh (he/they/any) were marked by weekend picnics in the country, midnight masses, English novels and sophisti-pop singles. After a brief foray in teaching, he embarked on a full-time ecclesiastical career in 1993 that spanned almost two decades. In the process, he found himself schooled in philosophy, theology, and practical ministerial service among the Bidayûh and Iban people in rural and semi-rural areas.
In 2010, Goh earned two graduate or master's degrees (ThM and STL) from the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in California, USA. His dissertation focused on sacramentology and liturgical interactions with native/indigenous ways of life. The life lessons learned during this period were both cathartic and transformative. It was also during this time that his passion for academia, research and education was further fuelled. Nevertheless, eager to experience new forms of service, he ventured into non-governmental work and worked as an HIV Counselling and Testing Manager at the community-based organisation, PT Foundation. In 2012, he made the decision to embark on full-time doctoral (PhD) studies. His research on masculinities and non-heteronormative sexualities in Malaysia culminated in a thesis entitled Piercing transcendence: A queer theorising and theologising of non-heteronormative Malaysian men, for which he was awarded a doctoral degree in 2015. Goh's thesis analysed the self-understandings of Malaysian gay and bisexual men in relation to their gender and sexual identities and practices, and performances of faith. In 2016, he joined the School of Arts and Social Sciences as a lecturer in Gender studies. Soon after, he also earned a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (GCHE).
Goh is interested in issues of gender, sexuality and sexual health within the larger framework of human rights. As a theological activist, he enjoys writing on issues of religion and theology, particularly in their intersections with LGBTIQ subjectivities. He is a member of the international Emerging Queer Asian Pacific Islander Religion Scholars (EQARS) group, and sits on the editorial board of two online journals, Religión e Indicencia Pública and Conexión Queer: Revista Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Teologías Queer. Goh is also a member of the editorial boards of the Queer and Trans Intersection book series (University of Wales Press), the QTR: A Journal of Queer and Transgender Studies in Religion (Duke University Press), and the Queer Asia book series (Hong Kong University Press).
Goh continues to be involved with various non-governmental, civil society and church-related organisations in and outside Malaysia on matters pertaining to gender variance and sexual diversity with hopes of contributing to social transformation in his country and beyond. He collaborated with Ms Laishan Yip, a doctoral candidate from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, USA to design and facilitiate the ‘Bringing wholeness into our sex lives’ Christian sexual ethics workshop at the Amplify 2018 Open and Affirming Conference, Taipei, Taiwan, on 26th October, 2018. He has been invited by the World Student Christian Federation Asia-Pacific (WSCF-AP) to design and present seminars on Christian churches and LGBTQ persons in Bangkok, Thailand and Bangalore, India (2017). Goh also successfully produced a discussion paper entitled ‘Christianity, sexual diversity and access to health’ for the international coalition APCOM, which covered issues in Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, Singapore and Tonga. Goh has recently been invited to speak on LGBTQ and Christianity by local community-based organisations and grassroots initiatives.
Goh has supervised several doctoral and Honours projects, and served as an examiner of various doctoral, master's and Honours theses and dissertations, both locally and globally. He has often been approached for expert commentaries and interviews on issues of gender, sexuality and religion.