Popular Indonesian podcast faces backlash over gay couple episode

Married gay couple Ragil Mahardika (Left) and Frederik Vollert on Deddy Corbuzier’s Close the Door podcast. Photo: Video screengrab
Married gay couple Ragil Mahardika (Left) and Frederik Vollert on Deddy Corbuzier’s Close the Door podcast. Photo: Video screengrab

A popular Joe Rogan-esque podcast in Indonesia is facing backlash and calls for boycott from the country’s conservatives over a recent episode featuring a gay married couple.

Magician-turned-fitness enthusiast-turned-TV personality Deddy Corbuzier, who hosts one of the most popular podcasts in Indonesia called Close the Door, often invites guests from all walks of life — some more controversial than others — for hours of deep conversation (sound familiar?). 

On May 7, he published an episode crudely and sensationalistically titled, “Tutorial on being gay in Indonesia,” welcoming married gay couple Ragil Mahardika and Frederik Vollert.

Ragil and Frederik are well-known among LGBTQ+ communities in Indonesia, in that they are widely seen to have attained “gay couple goals” due to their unapologetic openness about their loving relationship (something that many homosexual people long for themselves amid the prevalence of homophobia in Indonesian society). Ragil, who also has some following on video-sharing app TikTok, also often upload cheeky and humorous content for laughs. The pair live in Frederik’s home country of Germany.

During the hour-long episode, Deddy asked the guests about their struggles with being gay, especially as one of them comes from a nation where homophobic attitudes are still depressingly dominant.

Unsurprisingly, at the time of writing, of the 87 thousand comments for the video of the episode above, you’d be hard pressed to find words of encouragement for the guests.

“Even if I don’t support LGBT, I think that their opinions can poison others to think that LGBT [behavior] is normal,” one commenter wrote. 

“If [this podcast] wants to do a public service, I think a more interesting topic would be on former LGBTQ+ people. This could be a lesson for the public on how to change from that mindset or orientation,” another wrote, implying that all forms of queerness is a disease.

Furthermore, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the highest clerical body in the nation, panned Deddy’s podcast for providing gay people a public platform.

“I still believe that LGBT [behavior] is an abnormality that must be treated, not to be left alone under the guise of tolerance. Even if they’re born that way, that’s still not God’s will. Normal humans entail men pairing with women, and vice versa. Don’t take part in promoting the LGBT couple,” MUI Chairman Cholil Nafis tweeted today.

At any rate for Deddy, his gay couple episode has proved to be a hit, having been watched more than 5 million times in just its second day on YouTube. Despite all the calls for boycott (the hashtag #UnsubscribePodcastCorbuzier is trending on Twitter today), he still has 18.7 million subscribers on the video platform — no less than before he published the fresh episode.

Deddy has yet to publicly make a statement about the episode.

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