Faith under the rainbow: religious bias and the queer community in Southeast Asia

LGBT, opinions, Things That Bug Me

“You can’t be gay!” She said,

“Why not?” I questioned,

“Because it’s haram…”  and just like that the conversation ends.

What makes homosexuality a bigger sin than blind faith and ignorance? It’s through personal experience and stories in community spaces that I found out how conservatism is the trigger to the injustice that blinds logic.

Growing up where heterosexuality is the default, being queer is something that launched a million questions. Sure, to some it wasn’t a surprise but others were not as kind. A lot of the responses surround the belief that being queer is just about being physical with someone of the same gender – and while it’s frustrating, there are still many that does not differentiates gender and sexuality. It’s about time for the stigma of queers being nymphomaniacs to be out of the picture. I want to open the conversation on the psychological aspects that includes culture, gender, and discrimination or intolerance experienced in the community.

I’m now conducting my own personal research based on academic resources and other’s experiences that would hopefully bridge the gap where misunderstandings happen.

The questions I had to answer include but are not limited to:

  1. Are you sure?
  2. How did this happen?
  3. Maybe you should look into therapy?
  4. Have you sought to find God to change you back to normal?

This research isn’t limited to just queer individuals. Allies and friends of those under the umbrella term of queer are welcome to submit their opinions, woes, and questions on the topic of faith under the rainbow. This research is planned to be the base for a larger set of articles that I hope can be a voice that helps and supports the community where needed.

So answer me any of these questions with your story:

  1. How religious were you growing up? (did you go to church/the mosque/temple on a regular basis and on your own accords?)
  2. When did you accept yourself as a queer individual?
  3. How did you handle the situation (if your surrounding wasn’t supportive)?
  4. Do you still practice your religious responsibilities after accepting your individuality?
  5. Are you generally happy?

But most importantly,

What would you like the world to know about being an individual and someone that is part of the rainbow community?

Those opposing are also welcome to send in submissions of opinions on the matter, though anything harmful and ignorant will be flagged.

I’m open to a level conversation – not a one sided argument.

I will take in account the sources of my research and do the best to have an objective voice that advocates equality without dismissing or insulting anyone’s faith or belief. Nevertheless, this research is an opinion based entity that will be on qualitative grounds.

Drop me a comment or tweet me at @shenntyara, and I’ll try my best to go through them one by one.

Those choosing to email please put in the subject line: Faith and Rainbows. 

Please put a disclaimer if submissions are meant to be anonymous, I want everyone who has something to say to know that it’s safe to open up (even to a random person on the internet like myself). Feel free to record a video if that is your preferred medium – I will blur out faces if you’re not comfortable with being out.

Submission ends this April 28, 2018.


Homebound and reluctant

LGBT, personal

February is here, that means your one month trial for 2018 has ended! I’m sitting at my desk at this temp job writing for a few magazines at once and I’m dying to get back to bed.

Truth is, I wasn’t ready for January to end – not even in the slightest. I need more time to gather the material things I plan to keep and prepare a mental cushion for all the questions that will follow my low-key announcement on being queer.

As an Indonesian, as a sister, a daughter, and as a friend there never was the issue of being too promiscuous when it came to the opposite gender, it was “oh that’s just her being thirsty” however when it the situation includes a person of the same sex, being a partner to someone, it’s treason. It’s an illness. I lost all grasps of being okay last night.

I disappointed the sisterhood of the Indonesian sorority-like friendship by wanting an emotionally based relationship. Betrayed by the judgement I’ve been wanting to stay under the safety net of my blanket. On the other side of the emotional spectrum of being mentally shattered, I’m going to have to go back and stay a while with my mother. So that’s gonna be so much fun. I’m overwhelmed, I’m exhausted, and I’m feeling that itch to getaway. anywhere but the “paradise” that is home.


Irony is at it’s best when it shows up in my life. Home is a feeling I don’t get from a place, home is not a location. Home is over my budget. Home is too busy for me. Home is making it hard for me to breathe. Home requires a visa. Home is the seven boxes in my living room. Home is the balcony I cry on. Cause what is home but a feeling? Home is the feeling I get when I’m safe. What’s a girl to do when that feeling is lost or packed in a cardboard box?

Holding my entity intact, I listen to Damien Rice singing and like the title of my favourite song, I feel delicateYesterday I sat in a room of strangers, she was the anchor that kept my anxiety at bay, it felt nice. This morning I took a cold shower and wondered if anyone could hear me weep. I don’t even know what triggered the rain of tears, I’m thinking I should go back to therapy. My work has yet to be affected, so that’s good. It’s the moments between articles, the silence between songs, the pauses between breathes.

I thought I was okay. I thought it would be okay. I was wrong. excuse me while I bubble through the day.

Relations and relationships

LGBT, personal

It’s funny when you think about it, the other day I was on a tea-date with this wonderful person and she said “why can’t it be just like this?”

Truth is, I don’t know.

I know that I’m more dependent as a friend than I am as a significant other, in terms of relationships I tend to be more guarded – I know how to cut myself off when it seems like it’s going nowhere, and I know how to control my fall.

It’s relations that I find tricky. I have a handful of close friends and they know how to deal with me, my clingy and my crazy. Even my mentors that I vowed my life to know that as a friend, I put myself last. I guess the reason I would prefer a relationship is so at least, even if it takes time and effort, I would be more of a priority.

So lately I’ve been trying to be more gutsy when it comes to relations and relationships. I show her the me my friends see. My stubbornness she encountered when I fell sick, the raw reactions I let slip cause she deserves to know that her presence is enough to make a hothead like me blush. But I couldn’t tell her that in person. She’s confident and strong, but in the nano second when she checks her phone she shows her soft vulnerability. So many little things she does makes me want to let her know that it’s going to be okay and that I’m here even if I don’t know how much longer she’s gonna let me be here.

See she thinks my friends hate her, they don’t. Not in the way she thinks they do at least.

Has anyone else been here? If yes please comment in or drop a line in my dm’s cause I’d like to hear about how you handle relationships. I think there’s a vast difference and everyone is each their own but if you have/are experiencing something similar what do you do? What do you do when everyone else but you see that there’s an issue?


Charlie Sheen

LGBT, poetry, Uncategorized

I thought it I heard you laugh in a corner of a place I’ve never been

I feel like tearing up pages and performing on stages instead of being stuck in a cage of the societal scene

Comfortable in my skin i still wonder if you’d be around if I were more lean and less mean

The things I would give… my heart, my spleen

Maybe the I can’t give you the world but I promise I’d still treat you like a queen

I’ll keep my hair clean and we’ll never watch anything with Charlie sheen

I don’t know what else to say that’ll rhyme with sheen oh right, i hope to see your name calling on my phone screen

A History Lesson in Pancasila

LGBT, opinions, Things That Bug Me

DISCLAIMER: This article is purely the opinion of the writer, it is not written to be bias or leaning to any political party nor it’s opposition. 

I grew up in the bustling city roads of Jakarta, to be a half breed of Indonesia and a western country, I was nicknamed bule that directly means caucasian. It was always my pet peeve that even during my stay in Malaysia, I was addressed more towards my western side because of how I looked. I was born in a midwife’s clinic in the center of Menteng, I went to preschool in the national plus institution behind a church and mosque, I wore proudly my red and white uniform during the weekly flag ceremony as the entire faculty and students recited our nation’s five pillars. My passport is as green as my blood runs red. 

Ask any of my foreign friends, and they can tell you how proud I am to be Indonesian, however with the rise of extremists and radicals in the streets of my beloved nation, that pride I have has definitely been shaken.

Close to 62 years ago in August 1945, a group of young activists kidnapped our leader to force our country out of the occupation of the Japanese and into independence. However it was on June 1st 1945, when Pancasila was erected as the base of our nation’s views due to the diversity across the archipelago of Indonesia. With over 300 languages spoken, over 400 cultures, and 1000+ islands; Indonesia was one united by these five points.

  1. A divinity that is an ultimate unity (in Indonesian “Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa“),
  2. A just and civilized humanity (in Indonesian “Kemanusiaan Yang Adil dan Beradab“),
  3. The national unity of Indonesia (in Indonesian “Persatuan Indonesia“),
  4. Democracy predicated on the inherent wisdom of unanimity arising from deliberation among popular representatives (in Indonesian “Kerakyatan Yang Dipimpin oleh Hikmat Kebijaksanaan, Dalam Permusyawaratan Perwakilan“), and
  5. Social justice for all Indonesian people (in Indonesian “Keadilan Sosial bagi seluruh Rakyat Indonesia“).

It was assured to the nation that we are not able to have one without the others.

Fast forward six decades later, the country has shifted and in my eyes forgotten the true meaning of being Indonesian. I won’t say I have been the best citizen, but – as idealistic as it may sound – I try my best in every way that I can to better myself not just for my personal gain but also for my country’s future.

With seeing how radicals use this ideology in the opposite way it was made for makes me furious. Seeing what has been happening in the political scene and the reasons leaders use to “defend” Indonesia has me itching to demand a history lesson to be re-taught to these influential people that seem to forget our second and fourth pillar.

It teared me up in pride knowing that Timor Leste, a former province of Indonesia held a Pride march in solidarity to their LGBT community. It was a rush of envy that I felt reading about Singapore’s Pink Dot event. Yet, the LGBT related news that I read connected to Indonesia was regarding the demand by extremists to boycott Starbucks because they are a known supporter of the community and how this propaganda was being pushed and accepted by a significant amount of the nation’s citizens to be against the first pillar.

Nowhere in our five pillars was it written to discriminate and push hate towards anyone whether it be their system of belief, appearance, culture, or sexuality. Closing the Pancasila is the pillar I wholeheartedly believe in; Social justice for all.

I believe in signs, and while it might be far fetched, could we just appreciate that Pancasila is celebrated within the same month of Pride? I had only realize this tiny bit of information a few weeks into June 2017 where I celebrated Pride for the first time as a bisexual.

While my pride of being Indonesian was shook, my hopes of a better Indonesia remains strong. It’s my hope that with the change of time and the growth of modern thinking, Indonesia will be what it was planned for. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika is what’s written in the sash that the Garuda holds in his claws; united in diversity. 

I hope that in the near future, that diversity includes the LGBT community.


Dancing Around the Rainbow

LGBT, personal

I never expected this. Ever. But here goes…

There was always this curiosity in me, but until last week, I’ve never pursued it. Mostly because I grew up in a society that only accepts heterosexual relationships. Sure, there were moments in college that I kissed girls on dares and a brief holiday where a cute pilot expressed her interest. But that was it for me… until about two months ago.

I saw this girl, my immediate reaction was “oh, she’s cute” and I thought like the other girls I’ve found cute, it would pass. That weekend I was working the same event as her, and I found myself at times just looking at her from where I was stationed,  and every time I caught her smiling, my initial thought of her made me blush.

It was weeks after an actual conversation with her that I got myself brave enough to ask her to join me at a club. Surprised and excited that she said yes was where I kinda knew that this was a real attraction. Whether it’s just towards her, or the female gender is yet to be known.

I don’t know where to categorize myself yet, but for the first time ever I am open to the possibility of dating somebody of the same gender.

But this… whatever it is, is new and fresh and exciting and terrifying to me. I opened up to my best friend who’s planning a wedding in the next two years and while she’s supportive about my choices, she also brought up the things I worried about myself. If this isn’t a passing phase, what happens next? How would I break it to the rest of my friends?

At one point I think the hardest thing was saying it out loud to myself;

I like guys, but I like girls, too. 

On a different note, I am performing stand up at a rainbow event in June. More details about that will be updated once I can.

Leave in comments what you’d like to read more about.