Enjoying a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon at a Pan-Asian Chelsea joint, I couldn’t help but notice a boisterous group enjoying their pre-dinner cocktails at a table nearby. The 30-something male trio relishes their time together with jubilant chatter and unhinged laughter. From their conversation, Gladys Kravitz could intermittently decipher a word or two in English. For the most part they’re speaking Bahasa. They’re Indonesian. They’re gay. They’re out. And they’re now emphatically (flamboyantly) having a “Sex in the City” moment, with ne’er a care in the world.
Now, I can’t help but recall this Indonesian flick I’ve seen recently, “Arisan”.  Its main character is also in his thirties, but he is a closeted gay man just in the process of being pried out of his comfortable but lonely closet. Dorothy is not in Chelsea anymore. While Jakarta happens to be the capital of the biggest Muslim country in the world, luckily you’re not in Uganda either.  Still, Indonesia is enough of a setting to have your heels clicking 24/7 if you were the main character in this movie.
“Arisan” is said to have broken barriers, the first Indonesian film to breach the taboo topic of homosexuality. While touted as a “feel-good” movie, it still feels like it is decades old compared to my restaurant scene in Chelsea. It’s heartbreaking to witness the portrayal of reality. Personal struggles for social acceptance of one’s identity are still such a big deal on the other side of the world. Nevertheless, it is comforting to know that the story is not one of tragedy, as would be the case if it were a film based on David Kato’s own struggles.