Pride & Joy Day 2: Words on a Shirt

[Today’s donation was made to Rainbow Push Coalition. Click here to see my Pride & Joy Project 2020 Daily Donations List.]

I love thrift stores. I love going there in the mornings and being with the fashion hunters who’re looking for items they can sell with decent mark-ups. There’s a competitive energy that I feed on (I’m a Leo through and through).

This gem of a shirt was waiting for me at Out of the Closet Glassell Park, which still remains my thrift store ever, even beating other branches (second place goes to the Atwater Village location).

The typography is basic and perfunctory. The colors look like they had been chosen randomly to resemble a rainbow, meaning they have a distinct gay flavor (in case the “love is love” written in fuchsia isn’t strong enough).

But the slogans encompass everything I believe in, and seeing all of them together puts things in perspective.

Right now, more than ever, minority groups (people of color, LGBTQ community, women, Muslims) must support one another. We can’t let a certain subgroup fall behind. Gays and lesbians in the US are far ahead from our trans brothers and sisters in terms of achieving equality. Our bi siblings sometimes have to deal with even worse prejudice than we do. Black people, especially black trans women, are murdered at an alarming rate.

Some small-minded, but powerful group of men and women are trying to shut down abortion clinics and set women’s rights hundreds of years back. Immigrants are being imprisoned in a condition that increases the risk of a disease outbreak.

And out there, global warming is killing us all.

It’s grim.

But we all have felt how one act of kindness could change our entire mood for the whole day.

I was moved by stories of volunteers in Minneapolis who helped clean up the stores and businesses that were looted and vandalized. I was moved by photographs of protesters stepping in and up to make sure the demonstration goes by peacefully. I was moved when I saw nurses and healthcare workers applauding those who march because they know they’re fighting for the same thing: the right to be recognized as a human being.

I’ve always feared that as a gay person, no matter how privileged I am, I have a victim mentality that wants me to force others to be my ally, whilst forgetting that I too can and must be an ally to other people’s causes.

When this is all over, when it’s safe to meet people once again and interact without fear once more (my God it’s been a long time), I’d like to go to Out of the Closet and see what else they have that will inspire me and remind me to have the strength and capacity to be an ally.

Photography by Yuska Lutfi Tuanakotta.