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Jakarta Post

Don Aretino imbues fashion creations with narrative identity

Medan-born designer Don Aretino says that studying fashion design in Berlin has helped free his sense of self-expression, allowing him to own who he is. (JP/Andre Wiredja)
Katrin Figge (The Jakarta Post)
PREMIUM
Berlin   ●   Sat, April 17 2021

Born and raised in the outskirts of Medan, North Sumatra, Don Aretino grew up in a multireligious household that included a Muslim father, a mualaf (Muslim convert) mother, a Catholic aunt and a Buddhist grandmother.

“We all lived under the same roof and I learned a lot about different religions,” recalls Don, who adds that he and his siblings attended an Islamic school.

“Since I was a child, I noticed something different inside me wanting to get out, but I didn’t really know what it was until puberty, when I started to become aware of my attraction to [my own] sex,” he says.

It was a difficult time for Don, who was plagued by self-hate. The religious environment around him wasn’t very tolerant, particularly of gay people.

“Every time I prayed, I cried and asked Allah to make me ‘normal&rs...

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