With the cry of "Gay liberation has at long last struck Indonesia" Lambda Indonesia's first magazine was published in August of 1982 in Surakarta (Solo), Central Java. G: Gaya Hidup Ceria was the first gay magazine published in Indonesia and was created with the hope of building an Indonesian gay and lesbian liberation movement.
Although it had a short 8 edition run, G: Gaya Hidup Ceria tapped into an unmet desire for connection and would inspire many more publications over the next two decades. Its publication was the first step towards building a national gay and lesbian movement, providing a semi-public space for connection and communication that was previously unavailable. Through the pages of the magazine, community members could connect to each other, and to gay and lesbian movements all over the world.
Questioning who is, or what it means to be gay is explored through a multi-edition comic strip "Sang Jaka Menggiring Angin" by Tito. The comic follows the journey of the titular character Jaka in his exploration of love, sex and his identity.
By far the most prolific and well known publication from the period. GAYa NUSANTARA would go on to produce 134 editions, spanning over two decades.
Although there would be many changes to the format and content over the tumultuous two decades of its run, two sections would remain consistently popular:
A mixture of a manual version of Grindr, a penpal club and message in a bottle. The Perkawanan section offers a window into the desires of the readership to GAYa NUSANTARA, both in Indonesia and globally.
Letters with specific laundry lists of attributes sit side by side with short letters asking for a connection with anyone at all in their local area. This section would grow to take up a substantial portion of the magazine space to meet the growing demand from the community for connection, love and sex.
Di Mana Ngeber // Direktori
The community had a need for a guide to the spaces in which community members were congregating. GAYa NUSANTARA worked hard to fill this need. In the early years, meeting spaces were often in flux due to the common use of informal public spaces - parks, markets, beaches - and because of the constantly shifting commercial spaces in Indonesia's quickly changing economy. The editors of the magazine worked tirelessly to give updates and maintain lists is throughout GAYa NUSANTARA's run.
Eventually, this section would shift into a directory of the growing network of organisations, activists, salons, sexual health centres and friendly spaces that were emerging around the country (with only intermittent updates on the cruise spots and informal hang out spots).
The dynamism of the period is echoed in the magazine's consistent updates on the shifts within bahasa binan or bahasa cong - a slang vocabulary known within both gay and waria* communities across the archipelago.
*Waria is an Indonesian term that may be (perhaps inadequately) translated as transgender woman. Contemporarily the term transpuan is increasingly preferred. This exhibition utilises waria to reflect the preferred term of the community during this time period
Running for 21 editions throughout the 90s, Buku Seri IPOOS was an eclectic mix of pop culture, sexual health information and detailed accounts of the very numerous activities of the IPOOS group - parties, events, pageants.
Buku Seri IPOOS centred its large member base at the centre of its content. Profiles of community members are common, and members birthdays are often given special mention. Local performers are often given multipage spreads, detailing both the personal and the public. This was reflective of IPOOS's growing role as an entertainment powerhouse - often packing nightclubs with their iconic pageants and cabaret shows.
The lesbian magazine Gaya Lestari was created by the newly formed national lesbian network Chandra Kirana which was founded in January 1993. The magazine itself was created to try and connect non-English speaking lesbians in Indonesia to each other, and to the global lesbian activist movement.
Yayasan GAYa Celebes produced the only known Indonesian queer magazine created outside of Java. Beginning as PARAIKATTE (a word from Makassarese meaning With Us) the magazine aimed to both build stronger links between the queer communities of Makassar, tell people of the activities of the newly created GAYa Celebes and celebrate the events and successes of members of the community.
The magazine would provide detailed sexual health information, as part of the growing sexual health activities of Gaya Celebes. This included descriptions of testing, infection information and infographics on condom use.
Waria communities' pageants and performance groups are featured heavily within the magazines run with pageant winners often featured on the front page. This lays testament to the vibrant and organised waria communities of Makassar.
After a long hiatus, Jaka returned in the form of Jaka Jaka. Although Indonesian Gay Society had been on hiatus, a branch of the KKLGN has been set up in Yogyakarta, and with the return of some of the original members of IGS, the organisation reformed and resumed republication of the magazine.
Despite the renewed enthusiasm, after 6 editions Jaka Jaka would go again into hiatus before returning 3 years later under the title New Jaka-Jaka.
In May of 1997 New Jaka-Jaka returned, and continued to publish essays, jokes, interviews, and art focused on the lives of young gay men in the city of Yogyakarta. An important section of the magazine was an advice column called "Masalah Anda, Masalah Kita" (Your Problem, Our Problem) which answers the concerns of readers.
In the edition below, the reader Randy is concerned that he is too feminine and struggles with his loneliness. He questions why women dominate his social life and asks for advice on how to approach someone he had feelings for in high school who is now avoiding him.
Yogyakarta, as a university city, was one of the heartlands of the student movement that was so central to the actions of reformasi - the protest movement that brought to an end the new order system and restarted democracy in Indonesia. In one of the final editions of New Jaka-Jaka, the magazine calls on their readers to join the movement, illustrating both the need for protest and highlighting new political parties that have made homosexual and transgender rights part of their platform.
MitraS was a short-lived lesbian publication created in the late 90s made in response to the lack of lesbian publications at the time and as a challenge to the myth that there was no lesbian scene in Indonesia. The magazine is evocative of the loneliness and isolation being faced by many members of the lesbian community due to their double burden of sexism and homophobia within the wider Indonesian community.
The Internet and the end of the magazine
By the start of the 2000s, the internet in Indonesia was both accessible and popular enough to support a boom of lesbian, gay and trans content online.
Groups like Swara Srikandi built extensive websites that hosted online editions of their magazines enabling a whole new set of readers to engage with lesbian run content for the first time.
The success of online content would see the end of the magazine era with the final edition of the original run of GAYa NUSANTARA in August of 2005. After the final printed edition, the magazine would continue in a new digital format until 2014.
However, the rise of the internet allowed more queer created content than ever before. Large numbers of blogs, yahoo groups and internet forums thrived throughout the 2000s and brought with them the continuation of the vision first started by G: Gaya Hidup Ceria - building connection within our communities so we can work together to build our future.