SOAS, University of London, UK
This paper, titled Portraying the Multitudes: Representation of identities of sexual minorities on Indonesia-based feminist web magazine Magdalene.co, aims to interrogate the ways in which the representation of sexual minorities in the media opens a space of resistance against heteronormative public discourse on Magdalene.co, an Indonesia-based feminist web magazine. The magazine was established in September 2013 as “a slanted guide to women and issues,” to offer and engage with “fresh perspectives beyond traditional gender and cultural confines”. Its explicit commitment to queering gender and sexuality issues makes Magdalene.co unique in Indonesia.
The representation of sexual minorities is observed through a selection of six published articles written by editorial members and from contributors’ submissions, varying in age, gender, self-identification as sexual minorities, and degree of anonymity. The articles are analysed via discourse analysis, primarily based on discourse theory by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (1985) to dissect the notion of hegemony and social antagonism towards sexual minorities. Also incorporated into the analysis are Adrienne Rich’s theories of politics of location (1984) to look at bodies of sexual minorities, and Gilbert Herdt’s (2009) concept of sexual panic to look at the increasing religious-conservatism in Indonesia in contrast to the sexuality of sexual minorities.
This research produces three points of conclusion. First, not only being made vulnerable by various kinds of oppression due to their sexuality, sexual minorities are also perceived as a threat when religious-morality values in the society are deemed to be compromised as sexual panic ensues. Second, sexual minorities are oftentimes being publicly demonised by the media in sexual panics which are laden with heteronormativity in conservative-religious perspectives, leaving them with little opportunity to speak for themselves and resist, for making themselves visible could lead to the negation of their identity. Third, despite all challenges, sexual minorities still have the opportunity to construct their identity through their online persona, in order to resist heteronormative double standards in the media which largely exclude and stigmatise them.
Keywords: identity, representation, LGBTQ, gender, sexuality, heteronormativity, media