Pride & Joy Day 23: Battle Cry

[Today‚Äôs donation was made to LGBTQ FundClick here to see my Pride & Joy Project 2020 Daily Donations List.]

June 27, 2019, was when I saw Elizabeth Warren on stage for my first Democratic debate, but by then I’d already decided which candidate I’d vote for. I went to a sports bar in Atwater Village for a meet-up with other Warren Democrats to watch the debate. My Warren merch came on that day, so I didn’t wear this tank top to the debate. But I did wear it to a town hall she hosted at USC. It was a few blocks away from my office in Downtown Los Angeles. I heard her battle cry live for the first time. When she shouted, “Dream big!” I and thousands of others in the Shrine Expo Hall answered “Fight hard!”

We all know how it went down. Warren suspended her campaign. She was ahead of the other female candidates, but it wasn’t enough to win the nomination.

I got this tank top almost a year ago and so many things have changed. What is it with this year and death? Millions of people have been affected by Covid-19. Others by police brutality and racial, sexual, and gender injustice. On top of that, each of us has to deal with issues whose gravity only we can feel. I lost several cats back in Jakarta. The last of them died a few days ago. Processing the grief is still painful.

It also startled me that I’m inching closer and closer to the end of June, the end of Pride month. It was exactly a month ago when I did the photoshoot for this project. I was so excited. It was hard work, but I loved it.

Every second, something ends. Sometimes we know when and how it’s going to be over, like this project. When I started, I already knew how it would end and this knowledge takes away some sadness, and maybe I’ll experience withdrawal for a few days.

But more often we don’t have the luxury of knowing. We don’t know when this pandemic is going to be over. We don’t know when (or if) we’re going to win our struggles for racial and gender equality. But there are only two ways to deal with this: succumb to so-called fate like a Lovecraftian character, or stand up and fight.

And nothing, perhaps not even death, is final. If there’s one thing Tarot cards can teach us it’s that death can also mean a new beginning or a transformation.

Photography by Yuska Lutfi Tuanakotta.