Home Institution

Harvard University

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

Indonesia: Arts, Religion, and Social Change


This paper draws on approximately one month of field research with two Indonesian Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), exploring how Bali’s komunitas gay has been affected by, reacted to, proactively combated, and even transcended the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic. This paper first situates the argument by explaining the uniqueness of Bali as a site of HIV/AIDS resurgence and centre of gay life in Indonesia. In this context, the paper discusses the observed phenomena, testimony of experiences from collaborators, and the role one of these NGOs plays in the community. This paper argues against the commonly-held static and victimizing notion that the HIV/AIDS crisis has only caused sickness and a simple reactionary movement for safer sex. Rather, it argues for a more nuanced understanding of how the komunitas gay and its members have empowered themselves to not only confront the virus, but in effect also create a comprehensively stronger community and self. Essentially, the HIV/AIDS crisis has not exposed weaknesses in a static community as much as highlighted a dynamic process of empowerment and strengthening.


Immune System Diseases | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion


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