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(My) Afterword from Tribute to Diversity

It’s hard to be different.

I know it could sound juvenile at one time or another, but when you’re actually young and very different from your peer, it’s actually pretty hard to fit in. Let’s not talk about sexual preference or religious belief, you could get intensely mocked because you don’t like certain kind of music or sport.

In my elementary school time, some kids bullied me because I can’t do sport and I don’t like watching soccer. They called me names, saying that I’m a “queer” and all those nasty words which at certain part of my life pushed me onto deep hatred. Over a motherfucking sport.

I still not into soccer until now, but I’m not as hateful as I was.

I still think sport fanaticm is stupid tho’.

That’s why when Ines and Bumi proposed the idea of “Tribute to Diversity” event yesterday, I was hyped. The event was triggered by the cancellation of Lady Gaga’s BTW Ball in Indonesia, hurting not only the right of the concert attendees, but also the very basic idea of the reformation in 1998; the freedom of speech.

Born in artist family, I’ve seen firsthand the oppresion authorities did to my big family. I’ve seen my brother get caught by the police when he join the demonstration against the New Order regime that shut down Tempo magazine. I’ve seen how happy my mum was when Soeharto finally get toppled down. Growing here, I learn the value of freedom.

Yet, during my teenage years I never feel like I “belong” somewhere. It’s an identity-searching facade we all went through and it was never easy. Some people might say something like: “you’re only fifteen, you’re not tormented or lost, you’re just a kid!”, and I guess it’s a normal reaction from most adult.

But “normal” isn’t always “right”. As a grown-up we have weapon we didn’t have as a kid: experience.

Yes, I’m quoting Jake’s mum from Animorphs there. Fucking sue me.

But it’s true, as we grow up we tend to see teenage problems lightly and forgot how it was when we face them for the first time.

And these kids, these Little Monster are facing something most of us never face when we’re at their age: FPI threat.

We can go on talking conspiracy, ideology, morality; but these kids don’t know nor understand. All they know is they want to have some fun and their right is being ripped off just like that. And not all of them are “rich spoiled brats” or anything near that. Maybe some of them are, but most of them are just a middle-to-low class teenager, saving for years to make the costume and to buy the ticket. They even walked from GBK to Pacific Place to attend the events because they don’t have enough cash for the taxi.

And this is what they said threatened our country’s morality.

During the event, they listened to Tika’s music that voiced her view on freedom. They listened Tembang Pribumi chanting inter-religion prayers gracefully with their traditional-modern musical fusion.

And you know what these Little Monster did during Tembang Pribumi session? They sing together, they enjoy and embrace the real Indonesian culture; art and music, despite their unusual Gaga-esque outfit.

So seriously, Gaga (and “western value”) destroyed our culture? Think again, these kids loves Indonesian art performance more than some certain demographics. So tell me, who’s destroying Indonesian culture again?

And when the light went out and they performed their dance, I can see the spirit in their eyes, the joy of finding the place where they belong with people that accept them for who they are.

I am never a Gaga fan, but I think the message she try to deliver is the message I want to deliver to my children. Just be yourself and stay true to what you are.

Because you were born that way.

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