Being one of the person who is chosen to participate in Globalchangemaker Asia Youth Summit encourages me more to be consistent and passionate with I am doing now in Indonesia. I met almost fifty young people in this Summit with their activism in youth sector in many different issues, varies from environment, human rights, education, poverty, and also social business. In the Summit, I am the only participant who brought different issue – on how to dialogue faith and sexuality amongst young people. This issue has been my concern for almost one and a half year. This is the way that I do on how to put inter-identity dialogue (especially related to sexuality and faith) into multicultural discourse since what has already become a common thing in Indonesia is just only related to interfaith or inter-religious dialogue, or inter-cultural dialogue – with the assumption that Indonesia consists of different people based on sex, ethnicity, religion, and social status. In this context, the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity seems not to be discussed – in other word that it’s doesn\’t exist. That’s why I would like to start this dialogue from young people to bridge the gap and be critical with their own identity so that the violences – both verbal and non-verbal – that may occur because of it can be eliminated.
The most thing that I learnt from this summit was on how to sell and market our ideas. Those are two things that I didn’t do optimumly during my work. The 30 second pitch session made realize that doing activism was just similar like you do your bussiness. You need to workplan, teamwork, and marketing strategies. I didn\’t ellaborate well the last thing. Also, in doing fundraising. I have never thought before to apply fund to any companies and government, regarding with my issue. What I did was to collect fund or other supporting things (e.g venue) from individuals and non-governmental organization that also has similar concern with my work. During my experiences to do fundraising, I don’t need to do formal presentation in front of them since I use to meet and interact with them in during network’s meeting – that used to be informal. In short, in doing my activism, I really collect the resources from civil society organizations more than government and companies.
During the summit, I met participants from Myanmar. Zin Miko and Dau Ze. They are passionate youth who really want to make change within their country. They explain about their work although it is hard to deal with the system in their country. Zin told me about her activity to give public health to people from lower economic class by providing a small place where they can do the regular check up. Zin also accompany them to get access to the hospital so that they didn\’t have to pay so much cost. Dau Ze told me about his activity to educate young people from lower economic class while their parents still think that education is not really worthy. That’s why Dau Ze has to lobby parents so that they allow their children to study. He also has to deal with economy problems since some parents also ask their children to also help them to fulfill their daily needs. Besides telling their activities, they also shared about the situation of young people there. It was not easy for young people to gather. “Even in the street, when there are people who walked together, there will be someone who asks about what we are doing.” He also explain about how human right issue becomes so sensitive in Myanmar. “If you bring book with the tittle of ‘human right’ in Burmese language, you will be interrogated. But not in English language. I have my one of my friend get into the prison because of that.” Their stories and activism encourage me a lot to be persistent with what I am doing now so far. I feel the same burden although not in the same context. Indonesia has already passed the dictatorship era and after that, another struggle begins. To contest and deconstruct the system. Related to what I do, I am also on my way to contest the state that put the hetero normative paradigm in making and implementing policies, from Marriage Act that only put heterosexual couple to Pornography Law that put homosexual as part of pornography content. Besides, cultural (and religious) norms itself that put the idea of procreative-nuclear-family and excluded other options and how the religious institution use its power to to spread the hate-speech and intolerance to people with different sexual orientation and gender identity.
I understand that my work relating to faith and sexuality issue will be new or rare issues that young people usually get involved but I think most of us who attend this summit, I bet have already got mind-set about how to live in multicultural and diverse society since we will meet many young people from various background, cultures, thoughts with different passions and dreams based on what they face in their surrounding. As the consequence, we will open for any possibility of certain issue that may raise based on its context. It’s just unfortunate for me that I talked to one of person, whom I knew after that he had done great initiative for his cause. He asks about my work and I explain that I work with LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender/Transsexual) group and also young faith group. He is a little bit shock when I said that I worked with LGBT group and then asked about how their lifestyle is and how come I can worked with them. I felt a little pissed off at that time because he said it with mocking gesture and synical smile at me. Then I briefly say that I work with them because I am also part of community. I saw his face was a little bit confuse. Then I replied his confusing expression by saying that I am lesbian and I am part of the community. He was shocked until I asked him whether he ever has LGBT friends or not before. He said no. Then I directly give my hand to him and shake his hand and said and smiled, “Well, it’s so nice to your first lesbian friend!”. He laughed but I knew that he was still shocked. Then he said to something that made me feel bad and quite upset. He said that there is no LGBT in his country. I briefly countered what he had already said by saying that there was an NGO that made compilation about LGBT activism in Asia, and it includes his country but I thought he didn’t believe it. Soon, he said goodbye to me and that was the end of our conversation. I felt upset at that time, but at the other side, I got so sure that I have to bring this issue amongst young people, not only in my country, but also other young people from other countries in Asia so that young people will see it as an issue that have to be accommodated and struggled.
Last but not least, after this summit, I am going to hold youth camp. I have already got the name for this camp. It is called Indonesia Young Queer Faith and Sexuality Camp. In that camp, I will let 30 young LGBT people and 30 young people from faith communities to meet, interact, share experiences related to their sexuality and faith. The outcome that I expect is that there will be initiative that will be conducted together to spread the words of celebration of diverse sexuality and faith to more young people in Indonesia. I think that it will be a magnificent camp for young people to be critical with their own identity and break the stereotypes and prejudices among each other. I plan to work with some NGOs that already has expertise in interfaith areas, and also try to approach people that have same concerns in other countries, especially due to queer theology discourse.
The 5-days experiences in Asia Youth Summit re-energize my passion to be always persistent with what I have done. I have a big hope that the next summit will consider the inter-identity dialogue or at least LGBT issue as one of the option that is listed in type of activism that young people do. Asia Youth Summit is the space to celebrate all of the diversity and that’s how the solidarity starts – from learning and listening others so that we can work hand in hand to build a better life.
@Yulia Dwi Andriyanti. August 9th, 2011
[More about Asia Youth Summit, just click here]