Kristina Schneider: "We are doing it, not appearing like it" - Performing Lesbi Genders in Indonesia

My talk focuses on the practices of doing Lesbi genders in Indonesia. Indonesia is a multi ethnic, religious and cultural state. Despite of the cultural and social diversity found in the Indonesian context same-sex desire is colliding with hegemonic religion-based moral orders. Those religious and nationstate discourses define ‘natural’ desire as heterosexual whereby other sexualities are pathologized, stigmatized and delegitimized. There are also narrow ideals and images of femininity and masculinity prevailing in Indonesia. The ideal woman in this conception is feminine, exclusively heterosexual, wife, mother and restrained - an ideal which usually is problematic for at least masculine Lesbi. But despite of this sometimes hostile context and the complex negotiations of those ideals, most Lesbi don’t experience their genders as problematic...
With this powerful context in mind in which Lesbi – as all other Indonesian subjects – develop and perform their genders I will concentrate on the following questions:

How do Lesbi do and understand their genders (and sexuality) in this context? How is the body experienced, interpreted and made in/significant in Lesbi gender performances and in terms of a supposed physical sex? How is normative and non-normative femininity and masculinity performed by lesbi? Which strategies are used to deal with those narrow gender ideals and the heteronormative nation-state discourses? How do gender norms get cited in everyday practice and hence reproduced or subverted in the doing of lesbi genders?

By answering those questions I seek to shed light on how Indonesian Lesbi perform their genders in dis/connection with hegemonic constellations and point out which transformative potential Lesbi gender performances might contain.