From Mixwell to Stonewall Bali: Navigating the LGBTIQ Scene in Bali

Doody Richards
5 min readOct 20, 2023
Photo by Frans Daniels on Unsplash

I arrived in Seminyak, southern Bali, on 6 October 2023. It was the right decision to stay only three days in the south. I no longer feel like I fit in with the gay scenes of bars and glamorous friends in Seminyak. It seems like everything about Seminyak’s iconic gay bar, Mixwell, is tiring. It’s the same old, sleazy place I no longer belong to. I’ve been questioning why I’ve spent the past eight years in this place and what I’ve been seeking. Was it friends? Boyfriends? Sex? Honestly, I found none of those things.

A new gay bar, Stonewall Bali, with a refreshing concept, opened in August 2023 in Seminyak. It gives hope to the LGBTIQ community as it is dedicated to the legacy of acceptance that the original Stonewall Inn stands for. The bar aims to be an inclusive space that welcomes diversity and promotes love without limits.

Its vision is to provide a sanctuary for individuals from all walks of life to unite and express themselves freely without fear of judgment or prejudice. Andrew Saputra, in an article published on Coconut Bali, described Stonewall Bali as the latest addition to the Seminyak bar scene, exuding unapologetic flamboyance. I said hi to Scott, the owner, and exchanged phone numbers that night, hoping we could talk. But his reluctance to speak with me was often off the beaten path in the following days.

The vision and mission of Stonewall Bali are commendable, but unfortunately, the venue doesn’t feel very welcoming. Awkwardly reticent staff undermines its modern minimalist design, neon LED lights, ambience, and LED screen walls. So, it lacks warmth and inclusivity — as it claims. My gay friends consider it more of a transit place than a destination. Well — don’t we all know? — there’s a saying that we will eventually end up at Mixwell, the ‘iconic’ LGBTIQ venue. Despite its refreshing concept, Stonewall Bali may not be the final stop for many people. Only time will tell.

A drag queen performs at Stonewall Bali—photo supplied by the author.

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2023

It is true when Bali holidaymakers say when you are in Bali, time flies by. I’ve been on the…

--

--

Doody Richards

A Travel writer based in Newcastle, Australia. Passionate about exploring places, people & cultures. Published travel stories in various magazines and a memoir.