(2/3) I came to Australia on an Indonesian / Australian youth exchange program in 2010, as the representative of West Java, chosen from 500 participants. For the cultural performance audition, I created a flash mob version of a traditional dance.
I already knew I was gay but when I got to Brisbane, my eyes were really opened. I listened to my host mum talk about her gay brother with a lot of acceptance. I went to gay bars where guys were holding hands. And I don’t know if it was a coincidence or not but my Australian counterpart in the program was gay too. I felt liberated. In Indonesia, we have gay clubs but the acceptance is so low, and everything is hidden – you can’t tell anyone. I had to have a dual identity.
I decided to move to Melbourne because I knew people there from the youth exchange program. Luckily, I was able to get a temporary visa fairly easily because I had an engineering qualification. But it was hard at that start. None of my connections from the youth program even met me for a coffee. And I had to start from zero. I had a little savings, but everything was so expensive. There were 6 of us in my first apartment, and my ‘room’ was half of the living room separated by a curtain. I couldn’t find any engineering work, and I had to get a job as a waiter. I was asking myself, ‘Why did I give up my job as an engineer to come here and be a waiter?’
I heard it would be easier to get an engineering job in Perth, so I bought a flight and gave myself 2 months to get a job. I decided to go door to door looking for a job. I remember standing outside the first building with my CV in my hand, thinking, ‘How am I going to do this?’ But it went well. I got spontaneous interviews. And then I got a job in a company that was just starting a project in Indonesia. I was just in the right place at the right time. Now, they’re sponsoring me to stay!
Thank you so much to those who have already donated to this project! If you would like to show your support, please visit: www.youcaring.com/newhumansofaustralia