I open this note with the statement of John Locke from his famous book The Second Treatise of Government in 1690 : “The natural liberty of man is to be free from any supervisor power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for this rule. The liberty of man, in society, is to be under no other legislative power, but that established, by consent, in the commonwealth, nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what that legislative shall enact, according to the trust put in it.”
This statement clearly stated that human being is not under the domination of other human beings. We are free and equal in a natural way. But on the contrary, there is a restriction of rights and different treatments are legalized in our social life. Sexual minority groups (gay, lesbian, and transgender) seen as a deviant and immoral people. Thus they have big tendencies to be stigmatized.
Starting from the idea that the Victorian era has found a central place in popular culture as a period of excessive sexual austerity, repression and prudery, homosexuality is placed as “out of margin” and “out of history”.
A “real” women and a “real” man are showed as a perfect relation in order to do procreation. Some autocratic countries impose sanction to homosexual groups. But the case of Indonesia is something unique. Indonesia does not have some detailed regulations to give a sanction to them. But Indonesia is likely to have an authority to punish them. Homosexual groups are considered as a “Pesakitan” or prisoner. They continuously are punished, discriminated, and even criminalized.
Thus as a “Pesakitan”, instead of they stay in Indonesia and hide their sexual orientation as a hidden homosexuals, what are they doing? Or one question that should be appropriate is what should they do? This simple question invites me to know of their existence outside of Indonesia, not those who move between provinces in Indonesia, but those who move overseas. This opinion is based on my ongoing doctoral dissertation about Indonesian gay that moves to Paris and their interactions with their families in Indonesia within the analytical framework of the provision of social support.
The silencing of gay peoples in Indonesia became a fear for them. Silencing is not only unable to express their expression and opinion, but more than that. Physical and psychological discrimination often happens thus they became stressed and depressed.
One of the effect of globalization is migration that not only an activity to move from one city to another city, but from one country to another country. Globalization seemed to give permission to lose all the processes, for example the international division of labor and global, the emergence of a global culture, global finance and capital movements, global flows of images, commodities, people as refugees, tourists and travelers, global social movements, global civil society and citizenship, multiple and fluid identities, global risks, pandemics and also organized crime. Globalization makes all the elements such a ‘’borderless world’’.
Obviously for gay peoples migrate to other cities or abroad apparently not an option but a necessity. Migrated to Paris is a kind of big dream for them. Some queer cities like New York, Paris, Sydney, London, Amsterdam, etc. are the main attraction (pull factor) as a destination for migration. But I found that for gay peoples in Indonesia, pull factor and push factor are not two factors that should be taken one. The explanation is that push factor encourages them to immediately go abroad because of the limitations of expression in the country of origin. On the other side, pull factor is a driving factor in looking at the targeted country as a country that upholds the freedom of gay peoples.
Binnie said that migration represents a key way in which space and place play a significant part in the formation of sexual identities, cultures and communities. These formations are not only the freedom from restrictive laws, but also the freedom of become something and someone else. Thus in order to survive and to produce an identity, they need to migrate to a big city (where they can express their expression) in the first place.
As my respondent, I met 40 indonesian gays who have at least three years living in Paris. They came for many reasons, just for a vacation, looking some jobs and to study, accompanied by a very similar experience; accidentally met a French gay, fall in love, extend their stay in Paris, and ended up with living together.
I found that initially they do not know anything about how to life in Paris. For them, Paris is a romantic city; Paris has Eiffel tower, Paris has a museum of Louvre. And in addition, French men are very romantic. My respondents did not mention the representation Paris as a fairly permissive to homosexuals. However, this is not very surprising since Paris is not an ideal city as a place to stay for them. In contrast to the Netherlands as an ideal country to be used as a home for them because it cannot be denied that historically, a kinship relation on the basis of colonialism still cannot be removed.
All interviews ends with a sadness feeling. From the bottom of their hearts, they do not want to migrate to Paris. They prefer to live with their nuclear family in Indonesia. For them, surviving in a foreign country without or lack of social support from their nuclear family, a life of course is not still perfect.
Whereas in the 1980’s, precisely in 1982, the first organization that has a focus on the discourse of homosexuality, Lambda Indonesia, successfully established by Dede Oetomo. This organization has an aim to introduce homosexuality lightly through mass media. One big case that has a great contribution in changing the perspective of thinking about homosexuality is increasing a HIV/AIDS virus as a sexually transmitted disease that was allegedly caused by homosexuality. Since then, they are labeled as a “Pesakitan”; a person who sinned against nature.
What my almost all respondents want is that they wanted to return to Indonesia and hanging out together with their nuclear family, but the situation does not seem to allow them to return to Indonesia. That they were born as a homosexual is not there desire. The situation is the same one with those who were born as a women and men. Did they ask to be born as a women and men?
Being a women, men, gay, lesbian, and transgender, for me personally, is not a big deal. How do we honor them, is to look at their contributions to the state, rather than their physical appearance. Their migration to another country from their country, as in my dissertation, is not absolutely their fault. The issue that they move, intentionally or even unintentionally, is due to concerns about their existence as a gay people. If the state does not engage the practice of discrimination, they will never move to another country.
To close this little note, It becomes interesting when French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau through his masterpiece, Social Contract, said that every man must be free of any unimpeded, although in the end there should be a social contract. But it must be understood, and agreed together to create security, freedom and equality of mankind to achieve sovereignty. And also interesting to understand the statement of John Stuart Mill in his masterpiece, De La Liberté, that happiness will never be able to walk without the freedom of the individual, and to get it, we cannot impose a single model.
Writer : Wisnu Adihartono Reksodirdjo Ph.D candidate in sociology (sociology of gender, sociology of family and sociology of migration) in Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) Marseille.