Signs of Pride in Jakarta

by Steven

a circuit party in Nirvana of Jakarta

I may have to recant some of what I wrote about Indonesia on my post about Lady Gaga being censored in Malaysia.  Yours truly is currently on a 2 week hiatus in Jakarta, Indonesia.  It’s been 8 years since my last visit and I’ve been noticing quite a few changes in this densely populated city I call my birthplace.  Aside from the noticeably worse traffic, I’m sensing a positive change especially in the lives of LGBT people.  I’m sensing a new sense of openness here; LGBT people seem a lot more visible now than during my last visit here 8 years ago.  I was eating at a restaurant with my dad a few days ago and I’m pretty sure the entire staff was gay.  Walking around the malls here I’ve passed by quite a few gay folks and they don’t seem to be afraid of being who they are.  I even had a talk with my cousin and she states that the bank she works in has quite a few open and proud gay men and women.  Paradoxically though, the entertainment world here has some outwardly gay celebrities, yet these entertainers have denied being gay themselves.  One such example is the popular Olga Syahputra.  Most Indonesians if asked would probably say that Olga is gay, yet to this day he’s never acknowledged it.  My guess is that he’s had to deny his sexuality publicly to avoid being censored by the government.  Whatever the case, this is definitely one area which hopefully, over time, improves.  I’ll give Indonesia huge props for one thing though:  There is no Matthew Shepard here.  I have not heard of any hate crime aimed towards gays that resulted in death.  Actually, I haven’t heard of any hate crime aimed towards gays, period.  This live and let live attitude is something America should learn from.  It’s just ironic that it has to come from the world’s largest Muslim nation….

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