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Running away from loneliness in Indonesia

Running away from loneliness in Indonesia

Denny Faj is one of Indonesia's only openly-gay athletes (Photo: Provided)

Denny Faj came home one day to find his parents and two brothers gathered in the living room waiting for him.

His older brother had found the gay porn Denny had saved on the family computer.

‘Stupid me!’ Denny, who is 27 and from the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, told Gay Star News.

His religious family gave Denny an ultimatum:

Abide by the family’s rules and live as a straight man or be true to himself and sever all ties with his family.

‘When I answered “I want to be free”, my father was furious’ Denny said.

His father began packing his clothes and said he no longer considered Denny a son.

Denny was left feeling heartbroken and alone. ‘I just cried and fell silent, speechless’.

Denny had to choose between his family and being true to himself (Photo: Provided)
Denny had to choose between his family and being true to himself (Photo: Provided)

Digital Pride is the only global Pride and is dedicated to enabling everyone to be part of a Pride, whoever they are and wherever they live in the world. This year, we are focusing on tackling loneliness and isolation. It takes place on Gay Star News from 29 April to 5 May 2019. Find out more.

LGBTI life in Indonesia

Muslim-majority Indonesia is one of the worst places to be gay in Asia.

Religious and political leaders have been whipping up hatred against the LGBTI community for the last three years.

The crackdown has seen police raids on LGBTI clubs and saunas, publications, and even HIV charities.

two men sitting on chairs with a police woman standing over them
Two men arrested in Indonesia on suspicion of being gay | Photo: Facebook/Humas Satpol PP Padang

While there is no national law against gay sex, authorities have introduced local by-laws to drive out their LGBTI populations or used archaic pornography laws to prosecute.

Denny’s experience is common for LGBTI Indonesians who come out, or are outed.

That’s why most remain in the closet, living in fear.

’The environment here is that LGBTI is taboo’ Denny explained.

‘People are closed minded towards LGBTI people and consider it to violate the rules and norms of religion.’

On the run

After his brother outed him, Denny entered into an uneasy truce with his family.

They don’t talk about the issue. But, his mother some times lectures him on morality.

To deal with the stress and alienation from his family, Denny started to run.

‘When I started running, I felt I had accepted myself completely as gay’, he told Gay Star News.

‘Every breath, every step of the foot, every scene that I see … I feel very grateful that God has guided my way to get here’.

Denny wants to become the best runner he can be and win competitions to show his family ‘his whole self’.

’There are many LGBT people who excel in their own fields’ he explained. ‘I am gay, but I can have achievements in a field that I pursue’.

Denny found community in the world of sport (Photo: Provided)
Denny found community in the world of sport (Photo: Provided)

Finding community

Denny also found a new family in the world of sport.

’Sports unites all people from various backgrounds’ he told Gay Star News.

‘When I meet other runners, we always greet each other with smiles or just greetings, like we are one part of them and it feels very much in me’.

Now that he has come to terms with being gay, Denny decides who to reveal his sexuality to.

‘Sometimes lying for my own security is very much needed here’ he explained, ‘not everyone can accept LGBT existence’.

‘But I try never to lie about my sexual orientation’.

Although he is currently single, Denny knows that if he meets someone he wants to share his life with, it might cost him his family.

‘If I find a partner and want to stay under one roof with them, maybe I’ll leave my family.

‘I will be very sad if that happens. I love them so much.’

What is Digital Pride?

Digital Pride is the online movement, by Gay Star News, so you can take part in Pride whoever and wherever you are. Even if you are from a country where being LGBTI is criminalized or leaves you in danger – it’s a Pride festival you can be a part of.

In 2019, Digital Pride is tackling loneliness and isolation with articles and videos connecting LGBTI people. Join us by reaching out to someone who needs it. The festival takes place on Gay Star News from 29 April to 5 May 2019. Find out more.

See also

What’s it like to go on the run after your boyfriend is jailed for being gay?

Inaccessibility to LGBTI spaces is leaving disabled people out in the cold

How this cuddle club for gay and bi men fights loneliness with intimacy