Art Direction by Keysha Salsabilla, Puti Emily Naima Sukawati;
Photography by Puti Emily Naima Sukawati;
Styling by Aliya Nafila Yukki, Athaya Putri Muhammad;
Hair & Make Up By Puti Emily Naima Sukawati, Marbella Zalika Hartanti

All Eyewear by Renjana



A literal translation of Strong-Willed, embodies the essence of advocating for marginalized communities in Indonesia by crafting unique eyewear, reflecting our brand tagline “Seeing Through Different Coloured Lenses”. We celebrate and embrace diversity and inclusivity, drawing inspiration from the stories of friends, families, and loved ones. Our first collection ìKALEIDOSKOPî aims to honour the LGBTQ+ community through innovative and unconventional eyewear designs.

Text by Aliya Nafila Yukki, Athaya Putri Muhammad


Lucky Kuswandi - A renowned film director in Indonesia, who has directed films such as Dear David and Ali & Ratu, Ratu Queens, which are both available on Netflix. He had also created a few queer films, that being “Congz” and “Selamat Pagi, Malam”.

Kuswandi - A renowned film director in Indonesia, who has directed films such as Dear David and Ali & Ratu, Ratu Queens, which are both available on Netflix. He had also created a few queer films, that being “Congz” and “Selamat Pagi, Malam”.

Monica Tedja - A Chinese-Indonesian film director based in Berlin. Consistently depicting minority identity issues through her films, with one recurring topic being the queer community. Reflected through one of their short film titled “Dear to Me”. The short film is about the life and hardships of a young gay man who is vacationing with his devout Christian parents.

Arjuna Asa - An emerging creative director and photographer from Indonesia. For one of his projects, he created a fashion photo story (FPS), which depicts the hardships of being queer in Indonesia. The project titled “JATI ADAM” is based on his friend’s story - using symbolic elements to evoke certain emotions towards the audience.


In Indonesia, the lengths gone through by the LGBTQ+ community to simply exist is unmeasured. Like any other queer story, yet different and exclusively their own. Growing up in a religiously driven country has shaped people’s values and beliefs to think that being queer is taboo and a sin.

For years queer people have been set aside, discriminated against, and faced sets of challenges in their pursuit of acceptance and equal rights in Indonesia.

Hence, the publication delves into the queer representation in Indonesia’s film and media industry, by conversing with leading creatives that have advocated for the queer community through their body of works, that being Arjuna Asa, Monica Tedja, and Lucky Kuswandi. Answering the question “To what extent does censorship in Indonesia limit the growth of queer representation in the media?”.


Three creatives, face to face. Conversing and having an open discussion about their own projects and how they have advocated for the LGBTQ+ community within the film and creative industry.

So we all know why we’re here today

Where else would you see three Indonesian directors openly discuss about the queer community?

(Lucky and Arjuna nod in agreement)

Well, let’s just get right into it. I think it’s really important for us to consistently shine the light on this matter and also, I just want to say I feel lucky to be able to be here with you guys today, who care about the community as much as I do.

I feel the same way….. And so I would love to know more about the work you guys have done and your overall creative process. I know that with you, Lucky, as my mentor, I got the chance to see your creative process up close pretty often and so I’m always inspired by your work. I would love to ask you firstly, what are your inspirations when creating these films?

Well, first of all, thank you so much that truly means a lot, and well, to answer your question, I think most of my works have a running theme about identity issues, the idea of belonging, and also answering the question of what is a home. I made a transgender superhero comedy; Madame X, and then a melancholy Jakarta film, “Selamat Pagi Malam” which also explores women and queer issues, and my latest is “Dear David”, a teen drama that also speaks about the issues that I’ve mentioned.

(Lucky smiles politely)

I’ve watched “Selamat Pagi Malam”… I found it to be very interesting and relevant in today’s society.

Oh, thank you…. Yeah, actually for that film (Selamat Pagi Malam) my core inspiration was the fact that I used to go to school in the US, and when I went back home to Jakarta, I didn’t recognize the city anymore. And so it’s the idea of what is this city, who is it for, it’s a place of people wearing different identities just to kind of survive in this very hard mentality kind of society and how it’s very difficult to be your authentic self.

Right, yeah I totally agree, that’s also why one of my works revolves around that understanding. On how it is hard to be our most authentic self, in a place that (in the aspect of being queer) limits it.

(Monica leans forward from their seat, intrigued)

Oh, which work is that?

It’s titled JATI ADAM, and it was a Fashion Photo Story (FPS) project that was made for my final semester assignment. The project tells the story of our queer friend, Jati Adam (not his real name), who has to perform his identity as expected and scripted by dominant societal norms, which is to be born and be “the fullest masculine man”. And so this project is a re-construction of his stories about discovery and struggles, that Jati Adam has to face in his societal upbringing

…..What you said about “he has to perform his identity as expected and scripted by dominant societal norms” I think this understanding really plays a part in our society, especially people within the queer community who have to suppress their queerness due to societal norms. I think it’s really important that you are advocating that story.Right, yeah I totally agree, that’s also why one of my works revolves around that understanding. On how it is hard to be our most authentic self, in a place that (in the aspect of being queer) limits it.

I agree. I’ve actually done a similar topic as well for my short film. It’s titled “Dear to Me” and it was my final project for my Master’s. I was inspired by my Indonesian queer friend who moved to Berlin. I found out that his parents know about who he is, so basically what happened in the film happened to him. Same as what you (Arjuna) did with JATI ADAM’s story, I wanted to advocate queer stories to the public eye.

Arjuna starts the conversation by asking the other two creatives how they see the role religion has towards the public perception of the queer community in Indonesia, by sharing their personal experiences and knowledge towards this topic.

That connects to a point I want to mention…. Knowing that Indonesia subjectively is a… religious country, how do you guys navigate through that intersection between social and religious forces? Because for me, I don’t really have the answers as of now. Being queer, while practising my religion as well is still a struggle for me. And so I want to ask you guys your own take on the role religion has on the social perception of our country

Well, first I totally understand your struggles, because, from my personal experiences, religion really does play a big part in shaping my identity and it’s very present in most situations. Though I am not religious, I still carry a lot of religious trauma with me. Thus it affects me in the way I think until now.

Yeah, I agree…. religion does play a significant role. And I think the country itself has become much more religious now. When you feel like you don’t have any power anymore in your life, then at the end of the day, you turn to something that can unite people: religion. So as long as we don’t separate religion from the state, then it’s always gonna play a significant role no matter what.

When you think about it, It’s pretty ironic because in my understanding, growing up in a religious family, all religions teach the understanding of unity and kindness but when it comes to differences it’s still very hard to accept them, and that is why in my works I deal a lot with religion….. I wonder what my life would be like if I didn’t grow up with it. Would I carry this much self-hatred as a queer person? So I wonder what positive outlook religion can have at this point.

Right, I connect with that…. Not to mention how the public perception of the queer community has forced creatives to navigate a delicate balance between artistic expression and compliance with societal norms.

I totally agree, talking about public perception, looking at what organisations have accomplished, I honestly think most have done a great job in spreading awareness about the queer community, or at least make known that we are here. So in a sense, there’s an improvement.

But for me, I feel like the public perception of the queer community has completely changed for the worse as compared to when I made Madame X (movie) in 2010, not just in Indonesia but the whole world is shifting to the right, the very far-right ideology has taken over. Hence, I think it’s partly because everything is always politicised in the media.

That’s interesting…. I do agree that we still need more representation. Again, I am interested in the idea of intersectionality. There are tons of stories to represent different ideas of how we see ourselves as queer people. We are not one story and one experience. We are human and thus we have so many stories to be represented.

Lucky shifts the conversation to another topic - bringing up the issue of censorship within queer representation. He asks Monica and Arjuna if they had any experiences regarding censorship with their queer-based work and has a discussion on ways to overcome it.

Speaking of… Have you guys ever had any censorship problems with your work due to its depiction of LGBTQ+ matters? For me, my series CONQ had led to some warnings from the government, which made our actors very uncomfortable. I think at that point we decided that it was best not to have it aired anymore because we didn’t want to get into any legal and safety issues.
Monica: I have also gone through a similar issue. There was a screening in Jogja and “Dear to Me” was supposed to be shown, with another film that talks about a lesbian couple, but both of our films got censored. When you watch “Dear to Me” there is nothing ‘vulgar’ about it. There was not even a kiss scene, it was just a cuddle... What about you, Arju? Any similar experiences as a photographer?

I’m not quite sure I have had any experiences like that. But I do agree that we as queer people often face this struggle and so, I guess we have to find a creative way to express our stories.
Lucky: Yeah, I do think that right now it is harder for them to scream their queerness, in comparison to like back when I did “CONQ” in 2014. Actually, I don’t feel like there are a lot of filmmakers in Indonesia doing queer films anymore. So I think the biggest problem is self-censorship. In order to avoid further problems, filmmakers decided to censor themselves. And, that is a dangerous thing I believe. Hence, we just have to find a smarter way. Though some non-governmental organisations have made quite conscious attempts to spread awareness of the queer community, I don’t think that any of them have gone Mainstream.

Yeah, I see that…. But also with them already trying to share awareness about this issue… in a way, these organisations have helped the queer community to have a safe space and be heard. Nowadays, you’ll even see quite a few collectives that would have queer movie screenings together, so I found that to be really nice.

Right and we’re running short on time, so I just want to wrap things up by highlighting what we’ve talked about today. Through our discussion, we dug into how religion, society and politics plays a big role in shaping how people perceive the queer community in Indonesia. These factors impose limitations on individuals to scream their queerness out loud and prompt filmmakers, like you Lucky, to self-censor themselves out of safety. And so, it leads to the restriction of queer representation within the industry. But, despite all that, it hasn’t stop individuals like us to passionately advocating for the queer community in Indonesia.