(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!

Arrived 2011

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