Dédé Oetomo, a Happy Warrior, Reflects on his time at APCOM

By January 12, 2022 January 14th, 2022 Newsroom, What We Do

Contributor :
Dédé Oetomo
Former Regional Advisory Chair

We caught up with Dédé Oetomo for a short interview as he stepped down from the Chair of the Regional Advisory Group, after 8 fruitful years. 

Described by the New York Times as a “Happy Warrior”, Dédé is a prominent LGBT activist from Indonesia, and is the founder of the longest-standing gay rights organization, GAYa NUSANTARA. 

He has many strings to his bow; an independent scholar, educator and activist in research, education and advocacy in the fields of language and society, HIV & AIDS and sexuality. 

“I am also happy to see the movement for gender and sexual minorities grow stronger over the years.”

Dédé Oetomo

Congratulations on your 8 years as APCOM’s Chair of the Regional Advisory Group. What are some of the highlights for you?

It makes me feel proud to lead APCOM from a small organization with few activities to what is now a comparatively larger, more established network with many partners in different countries in Asia and the Pacific. I wish to thank Midnight Poonkasetwattana, the Executive Director, and his team at the Bangkok Secretariat for all their passionate, committed and hard work.

APCOM has also been able to collaborate with different community organizations such as ILGA, both at the global and Asia & Oceania levels, and with other strategic HIV networks at global, regional and local levels.

It is also heartening during my tenure to witness decriminalization of same-sex relations in countries like Palau, India, and Bhutan, as well as to see marriage equality achieved in Australia and Taiwan with strong advocacy from civil society.

How are you feeling about stepping down from this position after many years?

I feel pleased to leave the organization at a much higher level compared to when I took over from the late Shivananda Khan, APCOM’s Founder and first Chair.

I am also happy to see the movement for gender and sexual minorities grow stronger over the years. Our work is far from finished, but we have the human resources to continue the work to build a better world for all.

What is next for you?

For now, I’ll be concentrating on my own organization, GAYa NUSANTARA, mentoring younger activists for work into the future. I’ll still be teaching at several universities in Surabaya. I have not set my eyes on other bigger endeavors for now. I suppose I’d like to take a break first.  

What are some tips that you can share with the new Chair of the Regional Advisory Group?

APCOM’s reputation and visibility make us a respected organization. Be assertive in approaching potential donors and partners. Listen to the concerns of the folks at the Secretariat. They are the ones to implement any good ideas or strategies decided at the Regional Advisory Group level.

Anything else you would like to add?

I’d like the new Regional Advisory Group and everyone at the Secretariat all the best in steering APCOM during our second decade. I believe the time is right for change for the better, despite some indications otherwise.

Check out an interview with our current Regional Advisory Group Chair

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