I am Yulia from Indonesia. I am queer Muslim woman, writer, and feminist-queer organiser. I started my activism in 2010 through co-founding Youth Interfaith Forum on Sexuality (YIFoS), a youth organisation aims to build dialogue amongst young people from diverse faiths and sexual identities. The message is clear: that faith and sexuality are parts of our shared humanity.
When I left Indonesia and moved to the United Kingdom to pursue my masters studies on Gender, Sexuality and the Body in 2016, I felt worried and anxious as the situation of anti-LGBT sentiment and the politics of hate on people with diverse sexualities got worse in Indonesia. While in the UK, I co-founded and managed an online platform in 2017 with two friends called Qbukatabu, to produce content and information about sexuality from the feminist and queer perspective in Indonesian language. I wanted to start and continue the discussion of how hetero-patriarchal societies can and should be transformed with justice, critical thinking and compassion.
Over the same period I created “LBT Allies: A Journey of Becoming, and Nourishing Conversation”, a publication which documented my conversation with 5 Indonesian women leaders who affirm Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender (LBT) identity struggles as part of the feminist struggle. The publication became a foundation on which I co-created Tutur Feminis, a colouring book, as a way for feminist and queer activists to practice self-care through art therapy.
Audre Lorde, the black lesbian feminist poet and writer said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” I am becoming more and more aware that self-care and holistic well-being are an integral part of the life and struggles of activists everywhere. Self-care is what I missed in my activism for years and, learning from that, I continue to grow and work to co-create an ecosystem of care within this struggle.
“The illustrations are beautiful! The coloring activity can become a way to meditate. It is to neutralize the stress and anxious feeling. Through art, we have dialogue to get deeper understanding and gain empathy. Everyone can enjoy this process as a form of relaxation without gadget and technology” - Nia Dinata. Indonesian film-maker