A Personal Experience: Being Gay in Indonesia – Everything To Sea

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “Any man’s life, told truly, is a novel…” We are thrilled to publish a personal story from the heart. A journey of being gay in Indonesia, from Everything To Sea’s Support Specialist, Ron.

What’s it like to be gay here? For a lot of people who have never been to Indonesia and only hear news from the internet, this sounds like not a good place to live for gay people. Although a single province at the northwest tip of the country called Aceh practices Sharia law, and some gay accommodations were recently closed by a local authority in Bali, things are not as bad as they sound in the media. While it’s hard to call Indonesia gay-friendly (there is no legal representation for LGBTQIA+ folks, and being “out” is rare), it can be considered a gay-tolerant country – and the island of Bali is more so.

Thinking about my life as an Indonesian gay man living in Bali, I feel like I have more freedom to express my gay side, compared to others who live outside the island. I can go to gay bars, and I can openly socialize with gay friends. Although I’m not completely out – some people whom I work with know that I am gay, some don’t – I feel like I don’t have to announce it to everybody. There was a time I wasn’t comfortable saying that I’m gay – even to myself. Now I know who I am, but the journey has been a long road.

Looking back at the time when I first discovered myself as a gay man, I was about 20 years old and had just graduated from university. It was a true revelation. Being born and raised in a rural area in East Java, I was taught to be subtle, humble, and respectful to others. We were not supposed to talk about sex or sexual desires. Now, I have always been polite, curious, and striving for the best. These values were strictly taught to me by my father, while my mother was more relaxed, and gave me greater space to make my own decisions. As a high school student, I was attracted to a girl, and fell in love with her – but I knew in the back of my mind that I was actually excited by the thought of being with men. Driven by a big curiosity over several months, I telephoned a prominent gay professor in the town of Surabaya. He invited me to a bi-monthly gathering for gay men. It was quite nerve-wracking as it was my first time, but the LGBTQIA+ people there were very friendly and welcomed me with wide-open arms.

I didn’t fully embrace myself as a gay man until I met my first boyfriend, a very intelligent gentleman from the USA, who taught me to think and question. In this way, my brain was stimulated.  It wasn’t an easy process, because questioning is against Indonesian cultural values. We had a lot of conflicts in the beginning over small issues, but somehow we made it through. We traveled together in Indonesia, taking trains and airplanes. It didn’t bother us what people thought – even when we’d check into accommodations and request a king-size bed.  I remember there was a time when we traveled by train and were near a group of younger Indonesians in their thirties. From the way they looked at us, the men and women smiled. They seemed to know we were a gay couple, and I felt very comfortable.

And yet being gay in Indonesia, there are still challenges that I currently face. When they surface, they are from family – and society in general. The family issue is that I would be happy to come out as a gay man, yet I’m not sure how my mother, brother, and sister would handle it. I’m sure they would accept me and embrace me, but what I fear is ultimately how sad they would be. Their idea is that it’s not good to be gay, as it’s against their religion: for them, being gay is seen as an unnatural choice against God, and ultimately a sin. Surely there would be a period of shock. And then there’s the cultural thing: my mother would later share the news with those around her. Although neighbors wouldn’t hate her or hate the rest of my family, they’d certainly talk about us amongst themselves. And I’m not sure my mother would be able to handle the ensuing pressure.

I guess the policy “don’t ask/don’t tell” works very well here. Also, Indonesians – straight or gay – don’t display affection in public. So although I say I have more freedom living in Bali instead of Java or any other Indonesian island, there are still cultural challenges that exist throughout the nation. Indonesians in general still have negative attitudes towards the literal gay sex act. We still don’t have legalized gay marriage, but the younger generation here is definitely more accepting of the LGBTQIA+ population. In the end, I sincerely hope time will be the agent for change. 

By Ron Roeslan, Support Specialist, Everything To Sea

Check out more stories at Everything To Sea.

Everything To Sea runs all-male, clothing-optional trips on traditional wooden yachts in the calm seas of Indonesia. As a travel operator, they specialize in excursions for men of all orientations, that center around freedom, camaraderie, and friendship. 

Since January 2019, Everything To Sea has been exploring natural environments and giving guys one-of-a-kind, life-changing experiences. Trips range from private journeys for individuals to small-group departures for up to 12 men. Their ships are also available for existing men’s groups, such as yoga or tantric communities, who are seeking unforgettable journeys.

Pura Lempuyang Indonesian Temple – Keep Calm and Wander

Pura Lempuyang Indonesian Temple - Keep Calm and Wander

Pura Lempuyang (or Lempuyang Temple) is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Bali. It is also one of the oldest and holiest Hindu temples worth going to when traveling to this tropical island.

This sacred temple is two hours drive away from Canggu. The picturesque ride on your way up there is one to be enjoyed with such delight.

Visiting Lempuyang Temple during the pandemic has its good and bad side. There were only very few people (close to none) when we were there. On the other hand, not every temple was open.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Indonesia Gay Travel Resources

Indonesia’s Floating Temple – Keep Calm and Wander

Indonesia's Floating Temple - Keep Calm and Wander

Indonesia’s Floating Temple

Pura Ulun Danu Beratan Temple in Bedugul, in the highlands of Bali, gains its monicker as Indonesia’s Floating Temple as it is on the edge of Lake Beratan. However, the structure is not literally floating on the lake. It depends on where you stand, the temple, at a far distance, looks like it is buoyed up. 

On the day I visited it, the water was so low that it didn’t really look like I expected it to be. It was disappointing to me because I already knew how/where I want my photos taken. Backdropped with a gorgeous mountain, the complex reveals its beauty on a sunny day. As it is on the highlands, the weather changes from time to time.

I was lucky that on the day I visited it, the sun cooperated. But as soon as I was done, a thick cloud revealed, and rain came.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Indonesia Gay Travel Resources

Indonesia’s “Broken Beach” – Keep Calm and Wander

Broken Beach - Keep Calm and Wander

The Broken Beach in Nusa Penida is one of the most-visited tourist attractions on the small island, next to Bali. But is it really broken? When I saw it personally, I couldn’t figure out why they call it as such. Nothing there is broken.

Broken Beach Views

As you can see in these photos, there is a natural bridge with a natural arched tunnel under it. The water passes through the tunnel and smashes to the small beach below.

Of course, there’s no way going down to the beach, except taking a boat tour – as we were told. You see, the area is circular, and the hole in the middle forms a 50-200 meters high cliff. It is a unique rock formation and truly one of the island’s natural wonders.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Indonesia Gay Travel Resources

Indonesia’s Jatiluwih Rice Terraces – Keep Calm and Wander

Indponesia's Jatiluwih Rice Terraces - Keep Calm and Wander

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces is really beautiful. I mean, it won’t be called Jatiluwih if it’s not really stunning, right? I was told that “jati” means real, and “luwih” translates as beautiful or good. You see, Jatiluwih Rice Terraces is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You might wonder why but when you are standing there, you’d understand why.

Its five rice terraces are interconnected with a brilliant water irrigation system, known as subak, that goes through canals and low head dams. These water management systems mirror the philosophical belief of Tri Hita Karana, which brings all together with the balance of nature, of the spirit, and the human world.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Indonesia Gay Travel Resources

Bali’s Kecak Dance – Everything To Sea

Bali, often nicknamed “The Island of the Gods” or sometimes “The Island of a Thousand Temples”, is known as a mythical place rich with art and culture, fascinating its visitors. 

One thing the Balinese still maintain is the famous Kecak. Part ritual, part art-performance, part dance, Kecak is carried out by about 100 bare-chested men wearing nothing but black-and-white sarongs. It is meant to illustrate the world’s diversity. For the Balinese, it’s important that each aspect of the world is in balance. The concept is that there are many differences in the cosmos, and they should strive to be in harmony. Kecak is often performed before sunset surrounded by breathtaking views, such as the oft-visited temple in Uluwatu. 

Kecak was inspired by the Sang Hyang dance and Ramayana stories. Sang Hyang is a form of ritual dance where the performers are in trance, so they can communicate with the Gods – as well as their own ancestors – and therefore deliver their message. The Ramayana itself is a story depicted in Hindu scriptures. It tells the battle between the good King Rama with an Evil King, Rahwana, in an attempt to save Rama’s wife Dewi Sita. The good king is aided by the monkey god, Hanuman. In Kecak performance, men sit in concentric circles chanting “chak – chak – chak”, representing a full army of monkeys.

One might wonder what musical instruments they use during it. Kecak is actually performed without any instruments – it’s a capella. The sounds come from the mouths of all of the performers who vocalize the chants, as well as from metal bells that are attached to the dancers’ ankles.

By Eddie Rahadian – Full Story at Everything To Sea.

Everything To Sea runs all-male, clothing-optional trips on traditional wooden yachts in the calm seas of Indonesia. As a travel operator, they specialize in excursions for men of all orientations, that center around freedom, camaraderie, friendship, and honesty. 

Since January 2019, Everything To Sea has been exploring natural environments and giving guys one-of-a-kind, life-changing experiences. Trips range from private journeys for individuals to small-group departures for up to 12 men. Their ships are also available for existing men’s groups, such as yoga or tantric communities, who are seeking unforgettable journeys.

Indonesia’s Kelingking Beach – Keep Calm and Wander

Indonesia's Kelingking Beach - Keep Calm and Wander

Yes, Kelingking Beach in Nusa Penida is your ultimate hiking trail down to the white seashore. That is, I assume, if you are into a treacherous hike and reward yourself by frolicking in the white sandy beach and the turquoise salty water.

Perhaps you’ve seen this area on many tourism promotions for Bali and Indonesia.

Pantai Kelingking in Nusa Penida, according to the Traveler’s Choice Awards in 2019, grabbed the 19th spot of the best beaches in the world.

Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Indonesia Gay Travel Resources

Snorkeling in “The Best Place on Earth” – Everything To Sea

Picture a beautiful landscape under the sea, rich with marine plants, gorgeous coral, and the greatest diversity of coral reef fishes in the world. Snorkeling in Indonesia, part of the famous Coral Triangle, dubbed “The Amazon of the Seas” … is highly recommended. The water temperature and clarity are truly ideal. You should expect breathtaking views while exploring under the sea.

So why should you snorkel in the Coral Triangle? Well, seventy-five percent of the world’s coral species are found here— that’s nearly 600 different species. It boasts over 3,000 species of fish, six of the world’s seven marine turtle species, and underwater gardens that’ll make you feel like you’re in the movie Avatar. Snorkeling’s an easy way to experience its underwater beauty. And unlike scuba diving, you don’t need to get a certificate or complete a course to do it.

If you haven’t snorkeled before – or if you haven’t done it in a while – rest assured that in the Coral Triangle, it’s easy to do so in a safe manner. 

By Eddie Rahadian – Full Story at Everything To Sea.

Everything To Sea runs all-male, clothing-optional trips on traditional wooden yachts in the calm seas of Indonesia. As a travel operator, they specialize in excursions for men of all orientations, that center around freedom, camaraderie, friendship, and honesty. 

Since January 2019, Everything To Sea has been exploring natural environments and giving guys one-of-a-kind, life-changing experiences. Trips range from private journeys for individuals to small-group departures for up to 12 men. Their ships are also available for existing men’s groups, such as yoga or tantric communities, who are seeking unforgettable journeys.

Indonesia’s Exotic Fruits – Everything To Sea

Surely you know about eggplants🍆, bananas🍌, and peaches🍑. In this blog post, Everything To Sea staff shares their favorite fruits. For this list, we’re focusing on fruits that are native Indonesian and considered exotic to this Southeast Asian country.  

One staff member admitted that there are so many exotic fruits in Indonesia that he could not just pick one.

“It’s like we’ll have no shortage of fruits to try… or to put into our cocktails,” he said cheekily.

There are many fruits in Indonesia that are unique to the region. From Jambu Air (water rose apple) to Lychee, Coconut to Jackfruit, Longan to Guava, Avocado, Sweet Mango, and Starfruit, one thing’s for sure – you won’t be bored eating fruits here.

The stuff growing in this sprawling island-nation continues to amaze all of us living here.

By Eddie Rahadian – Full Story at Everything To Sea.

Everything To Sea runs all-male, clothing-optional trips on traditional wooden yachts in the calm seas of Indonesia. As a travel operator, they specialize in excursions for men of all orientations, that center around freedom, camaraderie, friendship, and honesty. 

Since January 2019, Everything To Sea has been exploring natural environments and giving guys one-of-a-kind, life-changing experiences. Trips range from private journeys for individuals to small-group departures for up to 12 men. Their ships are also available for existing men’s groups, such as yoga or tantric communities, who are seeking unforgettable journeys.

The National Museum in Jakarta – Keep Calm and Wander

National Museum in Jakarta - Keep Calm and Wander

The National Museum in Jakarta has more than a hundred thousand relics coming from different parts of the country.

This institution in Jakarta has more than a hundred thousand relics coming from different parts of the country.

It’s a must-visit if you want to know Indonesia’s cultural history. I have one word to say – impressive!

The National Museum is a Beautiful Building

The locals nicknamed it the Elephant Museum. There’s even a bronze Ellie on the top front of the building. So, there’s no surprise why and how this museum got its monicker after the gentle giant. The facade is, obviously, colonial. This impressive 1862 structure has its long history back when the city was occupied by the Dutch.

Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Indonesia Gay Travel Resources