words: Jamie Burnett
photo: Ben Collins, ABC Kimberley
On the surface, Dimas Adiputra had it all.
“Back in Indonesia I had everything. I had a good job, family and some great friends. But deep down, I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t be myself.”
The part of himself Dimas was hiding was his sexuality. He explains it was tough growing up gay in Indonesia, with some of his closest friends failing to support him.
“In Indonesia, I felt there was a society judgement and these community standards and (being gay) is not considered the norm. I just couldn’t be myself. Some of my friends were supportive but others weren’t. When I came out as gay, I lost a lot of friends. Every morning I woke up to a constant feeling of faking it. I had to pretend to be someone else. I had to try and fit in with what society expected and it wasn’t good for my wellness.”
So with that, Dimas packed up and travelled south from his Java home to try life in Australia. He first moved to Melbourne in 2016, but his visa required him to move to regional Australia. In April 2017, a friend mentioned Broome and Dimas got researching.
“Before I decided to come to Broome, two things came up on a Google search - the camels on Cable Beach and Matso’s Broome Brewery. Funnily enough, the brewery was the first place we went, straight off the plane. And we rode the camels not long after.”
It was only a matter of weeks before Dimas started working at Matso’s. He’s now the duty manager, and says he’s fallen in love with Broome and the Kimberley.
“I was actually quite shocked and amazed by how welcoming Broome is to LGBT people. I didn’t expect that level of tolerance. I walked into a gay paradise (laughs). People in Broome are multicultural, they’re from different backgrounds and for me it just felt like home as soon as I arrived. They’re cool people, they’re tolerant, they respect each other. It’s fantastic.
“It’s the same at Matso’s, the people that work here are from different places and backgrounds… there are people from Europe or Argentina or India and they all come together and share a drink and a story.”
It’s that level of welcoming that gave Dimas the courage to discover his drag queen alter-ego, Som Ting Wong. He took some convincing from friends in town, but once the eye-liner was on, he never looked back.
“My queen version, my other half, started in 2017. I realised there was a Mardi Gras event in Broome. I decided to unleash a part of me that I couldn’t actually do in Indonesia. I wanted to do something different and dress up like a woman. That’s when my alter-ego came out. One of the drag queens that performed that year dressed me up and put makeup on me. It was my baptism.”
It’s funny to think that a man from Indonesia would find the ultimate acceptance in regional Western Australia. And as it turns out, when it came to drag, Dimas had talent.
“They have a little pageant called the Kimberley Queen. I was already dressing that way so I thought I’d enter. And in 2018 I won - I was the Miss Kimberley Queen!
"At the beginning, I felt so weird. I couldn’t believe I left Indonesia, came all the way to Broome and won a competition dressing up as a woman. It made me realise I was beautiful. As a man, I never felt pretty… but when I look at myself dressing up, I feel pretty and I think that I look beautiful.”
While it was a move to Broome that allowed Dimas to find the beauty in himself, he says he noticed it instantly when he arrived in the Kimberley.
“What enchanted me of Broome and the Kimberley is the beauty and the colour of nature. It’s so beautiful, the contrast between the red dirt and the blue ocean. I just love that.”