Indonesia is arguably a conservative society, marrying its religious and traditional values as the ultimate moral compass. Living out and proud here means being bold, but not too bold. Stylish, but not flamboyant. Out, but not out. Knowing that our parties might be shut down, our nightclubs raided at any moment. Understanding that my own wedding day will probably never come.
The hardships of this reality have shaped me externally as a person who is strong, independent and aware of my own agency. But internally, it is cinema that has helped me rearrange, unlearn and re-learn how I view the world, and myself.
Growing up, I didn’t think a lot about sexuality, or the concept of ‘identity’. In Indonesia, these ideas were not readily available to me during my teenage years. Instead, I focused on pursuing total independence via the high-school choir and drama clubs (the freedom in these spaces!). So when my queerness began to awaken, it was less about what I was finding out, theoretically, about same-sex attraction, and more about what I was feeling: intense waves of emotions I’d never experienced before.
However, it did take some time to really carve my malleable body and soul, and this endless, continuous process was nurtured by movies. Cinema was always the medium in which I both felt more understood, and came to understand myself.
Which is why, in this Pride month, I have taken an emotional trip down movie-memory lane, to empathize with my younger self, and visit once again the films that made me feel more deeply understood. This is my definitive list of the ten film-watching experiences where it finally dawned on me, ‘Oh… I am queer.’ What were your ten
#queerawakening movie moments?