An American woman who moved to Bali from LA gets deported over her viral tweets that celebrated the Indonesian island as a low-cost and LGBTQ-friendly place for foreigners to live.
Sometimes celebrating your achievements too soon or bragging about something you’ve done can come back to bite you in the a**. And this travel influencer knows that too well.
Kristen Antoinette Gray and her girlfriend Saundra Alexander traveled to Bali in January last year. But when the pandemic hit, they decided to ‘wait it out’ in Bali and later decided to stay.
After a year on the Indonesian island, Kristen compared Bali to LA on Twitter and complimented the island’s affordable lifestyle.
Kristen and Her Partner Had Been Living In Bali as ‘Digital Nomads’
In a Twitter thread, Kristine wrote that she was enjoying an ‘elevated lifestyle’ and dished out travel advice to foreigners looking to escape to the sunshine.
She then listed the ‘benefits’ of moving to Bali, which included safety, low cost of living, luxury lifestyle, Queer friendly and Black in Bali community.
Kristine then promoted her e-book, costing $30 and follow-up consultation for $50.
Kristen’s Post Instantly Went Viral, but Many Indonesian Social Media Users Were Furious
Many Twitter users claimed Kristine was showing off living and working in Bali without a proper visa. Others blasted her for encouraging travels during a pandemic.
Kristine’s viral Twitter thread soon caught the attention of the local government.
Jamaruli Manihuruk, chief of the Bali regional office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, said Kristine violated a number of immigration laws. Kristine also ‘spread information that could unsettle the public,’ Jamaruli added.
A statement from the office cited her descriptions of Bali providing comfort for LGBT and being easily accessible during the pandemic.
It also referenced Kristine’s tweets with links to her e-book, which had direct links to agents who could help foreigners move to the island.
At a news conference, Jamaruli said:
“She stated that she could provide easy access to Bali through the recommended agency and offered the low living costs in Bali, that it is comfortable and LGBTQ-friendly.”
“She is suspected of carrying out business activities by selling e-books and put a rate for consulting (about) Bali tourism.”
Kristine, However, Said She Didn’t Break Any Laws
She added that she’s being sent back to the US for speaking about LGBT.
Speaking to reporters after Immigration officials announced the deportation, she said:
“I am not guilty. I have not overstayed my (tourist) visa. I’m not making money in Indonesian rupiah.”
“I put out a statement about LGBT, and [they are deporting me] because of LGBT.”
While same-sex relationships are not illegal in most of Indonesia, the LGBT community has faced growing pressure in recent years.
And according to a Pew Research Center survey, only around 9 percent of Indonesians say homosexuality should be accepted.
According to Social Psychologist Benny Siauw, Kristine Was ‘Ignorant’ To Described Bali as ‘Queer-Friendly’
In an interview with BoredPanda, Benny said:
“She was not aware of her privileges as a foreigner, with a stronger currency that gives her more safety compared to the underprivileged local LGBT people.”
“Here, the LGBT communities have been facing persecutions and other forms of discrimination long before she came [to the country].”
“Every time there’s sensational news about LGBT, the homophobes use it as an opportunity to show up on social media and speak out loud with so much hate.”
“Of course, at the very least, this leads to unnecessary distress for local LGBT people.”
“It is a daily struggle for LGBT people, whether we’re talking about family or peer acceptance.”
“And every time big LGBT news breaks out, everything becomes much harder for them, especially in such challenging times like this pandemic.”
The psychologist also said many LGBT people had contacted him for support due to stigmatization.
“They already have enough homophobia to deal with in their lives. Nobody needs that hate in the first place.”
“In a country where people promote conversion therapy, this whole ordeal might lead to further self-stigmatization… And we know that this process might also lead to self-hate that directly causes a lot of mental distress.”
“With all of these considerations, I really hope that media platforms, both national and international, would be more careful in covering this case. Especially when it comes to clickbait titles [about Gray being deported because of her LGBT statement] because it is a very gross oversimplification of the whole thing.”