This article examines the circulation of “global queer discourse” in Indonesia to interrogate the processes by which queer knowledge is received and appropriated. While Western-oriented queer discourse articulated by international LGBT organizations promote a “modern ideal” of lesbian and gay identities, individual female subjectivities are much more complex and layered. In Padang, West Sumatra tombois and their girlfriends, who identify themselves as masculine and feminine, access global circuits of queer knowledge and see themselves as part of a global community, but maintain subject positions that are distinct from the identities promoted and encouraged by activist lesbian organizations in Indonesia. In this article I examine the ways both lesbian activists in Jakarta and individuals in Padang selectively appropriate circuits of queer knowledge to make sense of their own subjectivities and negotiate their places in the “lesbian” world. I offer insights into the asymmetries of reception and the consequent multiplicity of desires and subjectivities as a way to incorporate the diversity of queer subjectivities within a “global gay” ecumene.

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