Go-Jek is supportive of LGBT employees in the office. It can do the same in public, too.

Whether he meant to do it or not, BrataSantoso, Go-Jek’s vice president of operations and business development has outed his employer

Outing. It was a strategic tactic back in the bad old days of “Don’t ask don’t tell”. It exposes hypocrisy of those who trade on a straight identity to retain power or celebrity. It can be shocking as in the case of exposing religious conservatives Less shocking in the cases like exposing Jodi Foster. Shocking, or not so much, the ultimate aim of outing is to whittle away at the taboo that surround homosexuality chipping away perceptions of its depravity.


Now its Go-Jek’s turn to be outed.Why? Because it conceals its true identity.it’s gay friendly in private while remaining silent on LGBT rights in public to detriment of its gay staff.


To be sure, Go-Jek falls into the “not- so- shocking” category.Born of a Harvard educated millennial, NadiemMakarim, 34, and run by 20- and 30-somethings with Mac books permanently attached to their laps it should come as no surprise that the billion dollar ride-hailing app treats its gays nicely.


Go-Jeks’s bright young things execute on social media campaigns, crunch data from its 10 million or so weekly users plot its expansion and maybe roll out an IPO. Their headquarters in Pasaraya, with all the sofa-strewn break-out spaces you’d expect at tech start up, is a well caffeinated hive abuzz with conversations that slip effortlessly between Indonesian and English.


These (mostly) youngsters can go anywhere and Go-Jek knows it. They know it because it takes months to find them in the first place. I met with a Go-Jek HR exec  a year ago and that point she told me they had 30 vacancies they were struggling to fill. A single want ad brings thousands of responses – most failing to pass muster.


In his fateful Facebook post that caused last weekend’s shitstorm, Santososaid that Go-Jek has more than 30 or so LGBT employees. But that’s not really the point.That’s because many working at Go-Jek are there for its hothouse of creativity and tolerance.  For those at Go-Jek who look in the mirror and see the next NadiemMakarim working alongside gays and lesbians and transgendered is part of bringing their own pet projects to life. The diversity is a sign they are on the right track.


Santoso won’t answer my messages. I can’t know his mind. But, assuming he’s gay, it’s easy to think of a scenario where he has had enough and calls bullshit on Go-Jek’s double life. I can see him stopping to think ‘if they care this much to what happens to me atwork why aren’t you doing anything for me when I go home at night? Go-Jekis gay friendly in private but they clam up in public’.


Why can’t Go-Jek come out of the closet?


Santoso appears to have taken down the Facebook post along with his profile. You can see here in a screen grab from an Instagram user for whom being gay was a shocker and helped launch #uninstalgojek, which trended No. 1 last weekend.



Go-Jek distanced itself from the post, calling it ‘the interpretation of a staff member’. Ouch.The company didn’t exactly throw Santoso under a bus but it played down the significance of all that rainbow ice cream on “National Coming Out Day”.


The single biggest hurdle the struggle for LGBT rights in Indonesia faces is the complete absence of any support in public. No one has stepped up to call bullshit on the rolling hysteria that is LGBT prejudice here. The latest example of this came from a friend at dinner on Saturday. He told me that University of Indonesia could turf him out of dentistry school where he is enrolled if it emerged he was gay. He told me this as scampered around the table to avoid being recognized by a classmate who had just entered the restaurant.


But for a moment last weekend it seemed as if someone was stepping up


NadiemMakarim, Go-Jek’s founder and CEO, Harvard MBA, who tagged along with Widodo on his official visit to the US in 2015, said “If you are intolerant of diversity you don’t really belong at Go-Jek,” according to Santoso’s Facebook post.


“That comment was taken out of context,” said a spokeswoman.


Only some diversity, I suppose. Let’s not carried away.


BrataSantoso. I feel you. So if you can’t say it. I will:


Go-Jek. It’s time to come out of the closet.