Last night you could have seen the American embassy in Prague lit up in a rainbow of colors. Today the Czech Republic has become the 10th country to host the NO H8 campaign and their now famous photo sessions. The added international press and “rainbow” support come on the heels of the antigay laws passed recently in Russia. News stories have reported gays beaten in the streets as hate spreads there. The backlash is being felt by the Russians. President Putin was greeted this past week with rainbow flags in Amsterdam, not just on private buildings, but public ones as well.
Last year the campaign came to Chicago. Following is the article I wrote at that time, along with a few pictures from the event. I replaced one of the photos in the original gallery with the portrait of myself taken by NO H8 founder Adam Bouska, which I received a couple of months after the event. I have used it as my profile picture on a number of social media sites ever since.
NO H8 Campaign
Last weekend the NO H8 Campaign kicked off its 6 city Midwest Tour with a stop in Chicago. The campaign began in 2008 following the passage of Proposition 8 in California and has since expanded, not just across the country, but around the world. The now famous photographs are numbered at over 20,000 by the Campaign but are likely many thousands beyond that with independent groups and individuals making their own NO H8 pictures. You can find them at the NO H8 website and across the internet on personal and social websites.
The photographs most often appear with people dressed in white. The subjects have a piece if duct tape across their mouthes. The tape is a symbol of voices being silenced by the oppressive laws being passed in California and around the globe. While the voice may be silenced, the campaign intends for the message to be seen anyway. It is stenciled on the sides of the faces that appear in the portraits. This powerful silent protest is gathering momentum as people are putting up their pictures. It is not just the unknown citizen that is seen. There are also pictures of dignitaries and celebrities in the mix. These high-profile people lend a great deal to the campaign as they raise the visibility of this effort.
The campaign was started by Jeff Parshley and his partner, celebrity photographer Adam Bouska. The not for profit agency promotes “equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest.” In addition to their famous pictures, the NO H8 logo now appears on t-shirts, lapel pins, window stickers, bumper stickers and who knows how many other items at this point. The logo represents a message that is growing exponentially as the duo take their work to new cities. Adam and Jeff made their way to Fargo, North Dakota this weekend after stops in Cedar Rapids and Omaha. Next week it will be Duluth and Rochester, Minnesota before processing the many photos they have taken in the Midwest. It was their first trip to Nebraska and North Dakota.
In case you are thinking that the pictures are just for gay people and politicians seeking the gay vote, I assure you that is not the case. While the majority of people who showed up in Chicago were most likely gay (I know, I am stereotyping), I saw families present with the parents (man and woman) having portraits made with their children. Straight friends and relatives were on hand to support their gay friends and relatives, as well has to have their own pictures taken. It was great to be in a room with so much love and positive energy. Hate was left at the curb, and hopefully was washed away.
If you do not agree with the sentiment that brought forth the campaign, I hope you will agree there is no room for hate. When hate enters a debate it usually moves toward shouting. No one hears the message while shouting at another. It is better to proclaim the ideals of tolerance and equality, even if it is done silently.
Post script: Except for the portrait, the photos in this gallery were taken with a cheap cell phone. I had not thought in advance of taking a camera.
- LeAnn Rimes, Eddie Cibrian Pose For NOH8 Campaign (ontopmag.com)
- Taye Diggs Joins Gay Marriage Group NOH8 Campaign (ontopmag.com)
- NOH8 Campaign puts a face on the cause for tolerance (readingeagle.com)
- 28 Reasons Nick Symmonds Should Be Your New Favorite Athlete (buzzfeed.com)
- NOH8 Dublin Photoshoot (grainneniaodha.wordpress.com)