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An American Influencer Who Promoted The Sale Of Her eBook About How To Move To Bali During The Pandemic Is Now Being Deported

Kristen Gray got into trouble with Indonesian authorities after promoting her guide to moving to Bali as a foreigner.

Posted on January 19, 2021, at 5:28 p.m. ET

For anyone curious about the deleted/hidden Bali thread

Twitter: @gastricslut

A Black American woman who moved to Bali, Indonesia, last year is facing deportation and intense backlash after promoting the sale of an e-book she wrote with her girlfriend to help others move to the country during the pandemic.

Kristen Gray and her girlfriend, Saundra, had been living in Bali, an island in the Southeast Asian country with a large tourism industry, for more than a year as "digital nomads." Gray, a graphic designer, was prominent on TikTok and Instagram, sharing videos and photos of their lifestyle in Bali.

It wasn't until a Twitter thread she posted Saturday about her experience in Bali, while promoting the sale of the couple's e-book, Our Bali Life Is Yours, that backlash started brewing.

"After getting rejected for jobs and living off savings trying to make my business pop, my girlfriend and I decided to book one-way flights to Bali, Indonesia," she wrote in the now-deleted thread. "This island has been amazing because of our elevated lifestyle at a much lower cost of living."

"In March, when the pandemic hit and our 6-month plan went out the window, we decided to stay in Bali to 'wait it out' and we've been here ever since," Gray wrote, adding a list of "major benefits of moving to Bali" that included "Luxury Lifestyle" and "Queer Friendly."

Their e-book, which sold for $30, included "direct links to our visa agents and how to get into Indonesia during COVID," she wrote.

Twitter: @gastricslut

The thread sparked massive outrage among Indonesians and the wider Southeast Asian community. They said Gray was encouraging an influx of Westerners to travel to a country that has closed its borders to foreigners over the worsening COVID-19 situation.

Gray (whose social media accounts have been removed) and her girlfriend could not be reached by BuzzFeed News. The Bali office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

FYI this lady still selling her ebook to her 10.4K followers on IG. I'd be lying if i say i feel comfortable seeing some ppl in the comments are "interested" to move to Bali to follow her path 🙃

Twitter: @toyoilohu

australians have already been treating bali like their own personal backyard and now we're going to get an influx of americans trying to find peace and connect with the nature and whatever bullshit they tell themselves here too? leave us alone 😭

Twitter: @tasilsa

Bali is a major tourist attraction for many Americans, Europeans, and Australians. It is heavily reliant on tourism, but its booming expatriate population has accelerated the gentrification of some neighborhoods, where foreigners build luxury properties and open businesses that cater to tourists and expats. Locals have been steadily priced out of certain parts of the island, and unfettered development is decimating the industries that Balinese people have historically relied on to survive.

It’s unclear if the couple paid any income taxes to the Indonesian government while working in Bali, but Saundra had suggested in a tweet that they were only paying taxes in the US because they were earning US dollars.

As OneZero reported last year, many foreigners work and stay in Bali on a tourist visa to avoid paying income taxes to the Indonesian government. The law requires those who want to work to obtain an official permit, but many who work remotely maintain tourist or other temporary visas against the government’s requirements, and earn foreign currency that they declare in their home country.

Indonesia, which has recorded the most COVID-19 cases in the region to date, is also experiencing a surge in cases right now. Westerners in Bali account for a large share of COVID safety violations, and a local media outlet reported that officials have said foreigners flout safety guidelines because they can afford to pay the Rp 100,000 ($7) fine.

Gray's characterization of Bali as a queer-friendly place also led to criticism from the queer community in Indonesia, where lawmakers have championed legislation to force "conversion therapy" onto LBGTQ people, police conduct raids on gay parties, and transgender women face deadly, targeted violence.

For those averse to reading, here is a succinct video regarding this for your heart’s desires.

Twitter: @kaimatamusic

This isn't exactly a straightforward case of a couple of Westerners moving to a developing country and the complications that come with it. Racism and anti-Blackness are very much present in Southeast Asia, as seen in the historical, violent marginalization of Papuans in Indonesia and the discrimination against African students in Malaysia.

Many who have defended Gray say she is facing this level of criticism because she is a Black woman, and the responses to Indonesians calling out Gray have also been inundated with racist and xenophobic insults. Others have pointed to outrage over incidents involving white and other non-Black tourists.

there’s not a single place/community in the WORLD that Black people can go to where their Blackness doesn’t matter. so to say Black people are “pulling the race card” as if we don’t know anti-Blackness when we see it (esp from a racial community who has historically and 1/

Twitter: @melaninxqueen

The Kristen Gray Bali kerfuffle has underlined a few things: 1/ A POC can be racist towards another POC, albeit of a different color. Note the bileful stereotypes thrown by American POCs at Indonesians. “Monkeys” takes the cake. And they clearly don’t know cats are revered here.

Twitter: @lyndaibrahim

In a statement announcing Gray's deportation on Tuesday, the Indonesian government said that she had extended her visa in December, and it was due to expire on Jan. 24.

Her remarks about Bali being queer-friendly and her attempt to encourage people to travel to the country during the pandemic were unsettling to the public, the government said. She also conducted business through selling her e-book and offering consultations for moving to Bali, which authorities said was against the law.

Gray briefly addressed reporters on Tuesday to say that she was being deported because of her comment about the LGBTQ community.

"I am not guilty, I have not overstayed my visa. I have not made money in Indonesian rupiah in Indonesia," she said. "I put out a statement about LGBT and I'm being deported because of LGBT."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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