Rejoice Yourself Campaign, Don’t be Left Behind

Inspired by Voices from the Left, San Diego Mesa College’s Associated Student Government sponsored a visual campaign called “Rejoice Yourself” to capture the introspective moments Voices from the Left gave its attendees.


Kole Lavoy, Photo Editor

[UPDATED: 5-14-2019; 11:45AM]

Inspired by Voices from the Left, San Diego Mesa College’s Associated Student Government sponsored a visual campaign called “Rejoice Yourself” to capture and immortalize those with personal struggles.

David Yusha, ASG Senator and director of the “Rejoice Yourself” campaign, put his photography and lighting skills to the test with six members of the Mesa community whom were also inspired by Voices from the Left. He gave them all props that represented a silent issue that they struggled with and personified their troubles through these campaign photos. The campaign encapsulated the lives of six individuals with six different hidden struggles: Addiction, body image, invisible disabilities, gender, sexuality and incarceration. Each image shows a Mesa student or faculty member that actually lives the depicted struggle.


A key piece of each image is the setting, all the models can be found in a classroom. Yusha said, “The classroom is a common ground with unique stories where everyone has their own flaws and struggles.” He also spoke about how impersonal the classroom can be because of the nature of community college, and how we never bother to know our classmate’s struggles. It was important to note this extension of Voices from the Left focused on capturing those that are left out just as the original performance was emphasizing.

Professor Sakeenah Gallardo was one of the models for the campaign shown in the “Love is Love” section. In her photos she can be seen holding a bouquet of sunflowers wrapped with a rainbow LGBTQ pride flag. She has a big smile on her face with her eyes gazed at the bouquet. Gallardo recalls Yusha telling her to tell a story with what he had given her. “I took the bunch of flowers, wrapped the flag around it, and held it up almost like a baby,” Gallardo said, “for some it’s a rebirth. I lived my whole life being straight and was even married to a man. I rebirthed, I came out, I was born again when I was 26 when I decided to be who I truly was.” Gallardo, who is an African American lesbian and a Safe-Zone-trained faculty member at Mesa, has questioning students approaching her after her performances at Voices from the Left and the “Rejoice Yourself” campaign photos. She added that coming out, “was like the holding up of these flowers. Flowers die and grow.” The somber photo Gallardo is featured in is the one the attracted to most eyes and was “actually and accident” according to Yusha and Gallardo. “By me looking down and having my hands on the flag I am saying, ‘I heard you, I saw you, and you’ll be remembered.’”


Being empowered and proud are difficult tasks. Harassment is frequently what causes students to hide their identity or struggles from their peers. According to the American College Health Association in 2016, 10% of undergraduates identify along the LGBTQ spectrum. With this, it is shown that three in four LGBTQ college students reported having experienced sexual harassment and 20% feared personal physical safety. At home struggles persist for these students. A 2013Pew Research Center survey discovered that four in 10 LGBTQ American adults are rejected by friends and family. Because being attacked can be a part of identifying as LGBTQ, many students refrain from coming out. Gallardo discussed her issues with her parents, saying, “My mother told me that (my girlfriend) was not allowed on her doorstep.” These personal issues of all varieties exist in everyone, every peer, and every professor. No one, not one individual, is alone.


When these campaign photos were published many thought about them in depth and how the people are all around them struggle. These people are in classrooms. They are the ones we sit next to in class. They are struggling with something deep down. Overall, remember to “Rejoice Yourself” and to look inside recognize how special each person can be.