Dede Oetomo

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Dede Oetomo (born in Pasuruan, East Java, Indonesia in 1953) is a campaigner for LGBT rights in Indonesia and an expert on gender issues in East Java.[1][2] He is the founder of GAYa Nusantara (formerly named Lambda Indonesia),[3] the first organization for LGBT rights in Indonesia, and a member of the People's Democratic Party (PRD). As a student and teacher of linguistics, Dede Oetomo is the author of Beginning Indonesian Through Self-Instruction, printed by the Cornell University Press.

Dede Oetomo is currently the National Coordinator of GAYa Nusantara. He is an active member of the Asia-Pacific Council of AIDS Service Organisations.

Early life[edit]

Raised in Pasuruan, East Java, Dede Otomo attended a Catholic school, but was not raised in a religious family. He learned to speak English in high school using a book entitled, English for the SLTP, which was developed for Indonesian students with funding from the Ford Foundation.[4]

In 1978, he completed the TESOL course and was awarded a grant by the Ford Foundation to study linguistics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.[5] He received a second grant in 1984 to work with the Modern Indonesia Project at Cornell. The project, established in the early 1950s by Professor George McTurnan Kahin and Professor John M.Echols, engages in Indonesian area studies.[4]

Dede Oetomo received a scholarship from the Social Science Research Council to assist with his dissertation studies during 1983 and 1984. He then moved into the study of sexuality, gender and the HIV/AIDS issues in Indonesia. Between 1984 and 2003, Oetomo lectured in political science at Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia.[6]

In 2010, Oetomo and the feminist activist Soe Tjen Marching established the first journal on sexuality in Indonesia, Gandrung.

Lambda Indonesia[edit]

Lambda Indonesia was started by Oetomo in 1982, as a newsletter providing a forum where people could write letters to receive advice.[1][7] Though Lambda was discontinued in 1984, it was restarted by Oetmomo as an organisation in 1987, under the name Gaya Nusantara.


Oetomo continues to use GAYa as an educational tool around the subjects of sexuality, gender and sexual health, with a focus on HIV prevention. Aims of the organization include raising public awareness of these topics and education in schools and tertiary institutions across Indonesia.

Dede Oetomo is active on social media, using the growing popularity of platforms such as Twitter to deliver his messages.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Suryakusuma, Julia (June 25, 2014). "View Point: Leaders come and go; gays are here to stay". The Jakarta Post. 
  2. ^ "Leading a double life in Indonesia". June 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ Graham, Duncan (19 November 2006). "Dede Oetomo: Welcome to the gay archipelago". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 16 May 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Webb, Cynthia (April 18, 2012). "Dede Oetomo: Starting something". The Jakarta Post. 
  5. ^ "Celebrating Indonesia" (PDF). The Ford Foundation. 2003. 
  6. ^ "Dede Oetomo". Center for Minority, Gender and Human Rights. Archived from the original on 9 January 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  7. ^ "Gay identities". Inside Indonesia.