Bali, Indonesia. Picture: Instagram
Bali, Indonesia. Picture: Instagram

American woman’s Bali Twitter thread causes heated debate

By Thobile Mazibuko Time of article published Jan 18, 2021

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An American woman, Kristen Gray, started a heated debate on Twitter after making a thread about her Bali experience.

According to Indy 100, Gray took to social media to share her and her girlfriend’s experiences when they tried out Bali after spending most of 2019 out of work.

While on the vocation, she became a self-employed graphic designer and lived in a “treehouse” for just $400 (about R6 100), compared to the $1 300(R19 819) Los Angeles studio they had lived in.

After living in Bali for a year, Gray said the place offered “the perfect medicine” for her physical and emotional health.

She listed several benefits of living in Bali, among them safety, the low cost of living, the luxury lifestyle and that it was queer-friendly.

She also shared her positive experience as a black woman with the black community there, and she wrote an e-book titled, “Our Bali Life is Yours”.

Her thread didn’t have a happy ending, though, as tweeps highlighted the impact that relatively wealthy American migrants have on local communities and gentrification.

“Bali is beautiful, but it has a lot of negative effects due to tourist. Yes, enjoying the landscape and finding your’e yourself is beautiful. But if you plan to move there, please interact with the locals, respect their culture, try to speak their language and be conscious of your impact,” said @geddaqueen.

While she might have meant well, others insisted that she used her privilege to disrespect their country.

“Hey, Kristen, with all due respect, as an Indonesian, this is by far the most disrespectful thing you could do for a country that has housed you for over six months now,” said @orentama.

Although Bali has been progressive in terms of tourism and LGBTQ+ issues, it is believed that Indonesian law discriminates against people for their sexual orientation and fails to protect them from hate crimes and homophobic attacks.

Before deleting the whole thread and locking her Twitter account, Gray acknowledged the backlash.

She said: “The conversations being had here are valid. Though they aren’t the conversations I was having today. They’ve been seen and heard. Just sharing my story with people.”

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