American travel influencer Kristen Gray, who went viral on Twitter last week for a thread about eat-pray-loving in Bali during the pandemic, is currently being sent back to the United States, pending the next available flight. Following an official investigation, the Bali office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights said that digital creator and U.S. citizen Gray violated a number of immigration laws, per Bali news blog Coconuts. Gray sold an e-book titled Our Bali Life Is Yours and offered paid consultations on traveling to Bali, violating the purpose of her stay permit. She is also suspected of “spreading information that could unsettle the public” by saying Bali is queer-friendly and suggesting foreigners travel to Indonesia during the pandemic. (A reminder that you shouldn’t travel … anywhere.) Gray was in Indonesia under a visitor-stay permit, which was valid until January 24. She is currently being detained in Denpasar, Bali, awaiting the next flight along with her girlfriend, Saundra. Gray will not be allowed back into the country for six months. In a brief statement to Balinese press, Gray said, “I am not guilty. I have not overstayed my visa. I have not made money in Indonesian rupiah in Indonesia. I put out a statement about LGBT and I am being deported about LGBT.”
Gray’s Balinese adventure was cut short after her tweets went viral. In them, she encourages others to move to Bali, offers tips on traveling amid the coronavirus pandemic, and, of course, promotes her e-book. Gray explained that she and her girlfriend had been living in Bali for more than a year. In 2019, they booked one-way flights with plans to stay for six months, until the pandemic hit. She specifically praised Bali for its “safety, low cost of living, luxury lifestyle, [and] queer friendly and Black in Bali community.” However, in March 2020, Indonesian lawmakers proposed a bill that would force lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to undergo conversion therapy, just one example of the widespread persecution the LGBTQ+ community faces in Indonesia. And her $400 rent may be affordable for tourists, but it isn’t for many locals, who, according to Coconuts, make a minimum wage of about $177 a month. “Why would I have to pay taxes if I never made IRD?” her girlfriend Saundra said, referencing the Indonesian currency, in response to a quote tweet asking about taxes. “I pay American taxes for making USD.” Funny how traveling does not make you a travel expert. Kristen Gray’s Twitter and Instagram accounts have been quarantined following the controversy, just like she’ll be soon.