NO H8 Campaign Comes To Chicago

No H8_mediumThe NO H8 campaign returns to Chicago this afternoon so I thought it was a good time to rerun this article and photo gallery from 2014.  My photo from this stop is on the right. 

Spreading the message of equality

Perhaps you have seen some of the famous pictures captured by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska.  The ones where the subject has duct tape on his or her mouth and “NO H8” stenciled on the person, usually the face. While many celebrities and politicians, including a large number from the House Democratic Caucus, have had their pictures taken by the campaign, it is the many thousands of others who make the campaign a success.

The NO H8 (No hate) campaign was started in response to California’s Proposition 8, or as some called it, Prop H8.  The photo campaign of silent protest was started by photographer Adam Bouska and his partner Jeff Parshley.  The duct tape over the mouth is a symbol of voices being silenced by legislation like Proposition 8 and the No H8 stencil is the message that is being spread anyway.  The pictures struck a chord with supporters and eventually the movement spread across the country and finally it has gone international.

When the campaign came to Chicago in 2012, the second visit to the Windy City, I went to the photo shoot and posted a small gallery here.  The following year I noted the campaign had gone international.  Now the campaign has returned for another photo shoot.  Almost 300 people came to have Adam take their picture as Jeff prepared the participants for their moment in front of the camera.  Adam took many shots of each person and later will decide with picture to add to the growing No H8 gallery.  Following is from last Sunday’s gathering in downtown Chicago.

Click on a picture for a larger version, then go through the gallery.

The video shows the moments just before many of the photos above were taken as well other moments.

SNOW HATE – By Rich Paschall

Another Harold! I wonder how often I used that name. Since we are in the midst of a blizzard here, I thought it would be a good day to reblog this.

SERENDIPITY: SEEKING INTELLIGENT LIFE ON EARTH

A NO H8 story by Rich Paschall – Sunday Night Blog

The door bell startled Harold.  He was not expecting anyone on a snowy Saturday afternoon in January.  He moved quickly to the front door and opened it to find his teenage grandson.

“Hello grandpa,” the boy blurted, “I came to shovel your snow.”  At that Billy grabbed a shovel from just inside the front door and went immediately to work.  Harold closed the door and watched him through the glass in the door.  Billy attacked the snow like he was angry at every single flake that fell from the sky.  The look on his face and the force at which he threw each shovelful of snow concerned Harold.

75-BigSnowHPCR-9

He went directly to the phone and called Billy’s parents.

“Hello,” came the voice of Harold’s daughter-in-law.  Madeleine was sweet, nice looking and ultimately clueless.  Her small social circle was her main…

View original post 1,116 more words

NO H8 Campaign Comes To Chicago

Spreading the message of equality

Perhaps you have seen some of the famous pictures captured by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska.  The ones where the subject has duct tape on his or her mouth and “NO H8” stenciled on the person, usually the face. While many celebrities and politicians, including a large number from the House Democratic Caucus, have had their pictures taken by the campaign, it is the many thousands of others who make the campaign a success.

The NO H8 (No hate) campaign was started in response to California’s Proposition 8, or as some called it, Prop H8.  The photo campaign of silent protest was started by photographer Adam Bouska and his partner Jeff Parshley.  The duct tape over the mouth is a symbol of voices being silenced by legislation like Proposition 8 and the No H8 stencil is the message that is being spread anyway.  The pictures struck a chord with supporters and eventually the movement spread across the country and finally it has gone international.

When the campaign came to Chicago in 2012, the second visit to the Windy City, I went to the photo shoot and posted a small gallery here.  The following year I noted the campaign had gone international.  Now the campaign has returned for another photo shoot.  Almost 300 people came to have Adam take their picture as Jeff prepared the participants for their moment in front of the camera.  Adam took many shots of each person and later will decide with picture to add to the growing No H8 gallery.  Following is from last Sunday’s gathering in downtown Chicago.

Click on a picture for a larger version, then go through the gallery.

The video shows the moments just before many of the photos above were taken as well other moments.

Taking the Message Overseas

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.

A coming out story

Last year at this time a facebook status, some stories in the news and a number of You Tube videos on “coming out” compelled me to write on a topic I might have otherwise avoided.  As you will see below, I could not find a dramatic You Tube video at the time on the harrowing coming out story to which I referred.  I subsequently found it and posted it in a follow-up article.  I have linked it to Angel‘s name here if you would like to see it.  It is a tough 12 minutes.

Despite everything that has been in the news lately, I thought I would shy away from this topic. It is often a political hot potato fraught with emotional arguments that have little to do with rational thinking. There seemed no reason to be another voice among the already countless raised voices. Then I caught a status message on Facebook that got me to rethink my position. A relative posted a status message that his daughter had put up. As I read through it, I was impressed with the thoughtful counter arguments regarding the opposition to gay marriage, as well intelligent remarks about being gay. I thought I need some of this when the haters start in with their venom.
As I read down the lengthy post I began to realize this was not just a rebuttal to recent actions in the news, particularly the gay marriage ban in North Carolina, but also a commentary by a relative of what it was like to grow up gay. I was totally unaware of the circumstances of her personal life or the problems that it brought her. She did not avoid the most difficult parts of the story, but put it out there bravely for us to see. I was moved by the willingness to try to help people understand by pointing to a personal story.
Unless you are a member of the 1 in 10 who grows up feeling different and alone, it is hard to understand what it is like. You may be picked on at school, bullied by classmates in ways much more hateful than mere childhood teasing. You might find the very thought of going to school as terrifying, and return home each day depressed, perhaps with thoughts of suicide. Recently a 14-year-old boy in Iowa took his own life as a result of the bullying at school and online. “Mom, you don’t know how it feels to be hated,” he had told his mother. He just could not live with it anymore.
What drives people to this kind of hatred? Recently I viewed some coming out stories on You Tube. The story of one young man absolutely stunned me. Angel did not appear to be overtly gay in his video. He told that his coming out was actually an accident. His father saw him kissing his boyfriend. The boy was often dropped off a block or more from home so his father would not see them. When the father got home he confronted Angel and demanded to know if he was a faggot. Angel knew if he said he was gay, he would get a beating, but he got one anyway. It was a severe beating the boy could hardly survive. When the father had to go out, Angel called for help. He did not call the police, his father was a cop. He called a hotline and then a family he thought might help. The woman told him to just get out and she would meet him at the corner. He did not make it that far. Bleeding he fell to the ground throwing up blood. He was found and eventually taken to a hospital emergency room. What father would beat his child almost to death because he dared to love someone not of his father’s choosing? Obviously, Angel recovered and was able to tell his story.
Imagine the terror many in the 10 percent may feel, if not for themselves, perhaps for their friends. Will today be the day they are bullied, beaten, or worse? Imagine not knowing who to trust, at home or at school. Imagine not knowing if life will hold anything of worth for you. “Imagine all the people living life in peace.”
Angel has forgiven his father, strange as that may seem. They have even talked since. When I saw his story, I did not have any idea about writing this, so I did not keep track of the You Tube link. I thought I would go back and find it to put at the bottom of this. I searched “A coming out story” since I thought that was the title and I got 149,000 results. For all the young gay people afraid to be who they are, you can be assured, you are not alone. I did find that most of these stories actually turn out well. Some were surprised at the acceptance they received. If you need some hope, search “it gets better.” It is the popular campaign of the Trevor Project. You will find hope shining through the dark night. I can not explain to you how people can use the Bible or other religious book to support a position of hate, it taught me that we should love one another as we should love ourselves. If you find it tough right now, for you or a loved one, don’t give in to the haters. It gets better.


http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

U.S. Supreme Court v. Public Opinion

Hollingsworth v. Perry, No. 12-144

Hollingsworth v. Perry

Hollingsworth v. Perry (Photo credit: angela n.)

The US Supreme Court surprised some with the agreement to hear not one but two cases on the issue of same-sex marriage.  Both sides of the national debate are hoping these will provide landmark decisions.   One case deals with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) while the other deals with the infamous California Proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriage in the primarily liberal state.  “Prop 8” garnered so much unfavorable publicity that it spawned a national movement, NO H8, whose pictures have gone viral world-wide.  A lower court struck down Prop 8 but the matter has appealed its way to the Supreme Court.  Hearing a DOMA case was practically a given as the court does tend to review a lower court’s efforts to strike down a federal law, but Prop 8 was a bit of a surprise.

While legal analysts would have bet on the court hearing DOMA to see how the law holds up before reviewing Hollingsworth v. Perry, they were surprised to find No 12-144 up first.  The oral arguments seemed to indicate that it was the conservative justices that wanted to hear the case.  It only takes 4 justices to agree to hear a case while 5 are needed to reach a decision.  Conservatives probably do not see a better time than now, especially with a liberal president in the White House.  While concerns were voiced in the courtroom about the decision to even hear the case, the real telling point will come when the ruling is handed out.  Are some high court justices willing to set aside the lower court’s decision and therefore uphold Prop 8?

The issue in this case is whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.  The courts have held in the past that marriage is the business of the state and not the federal government.  If there is no constitutional guarantee, then California may have the right to pass such a ban.  Despite the concern about the federal government interfering in states rights, the Supreme Court may have  enough room to wiggle off this hook.  There could be a narrow decision regarding the principles of this case, while they throw the rest of the mess back at California.  If they put aside the lower court’s decision, and do not clearly ban a Prop 8 type law, the fight could begin a new.  Although it may be hard to do after hearing oral arguments, they may decide the case was “improvidently granted” and walk away.  Law professors and legal analysts do not see that as likely.  Still, they could decide that the Prop 8 supporters had no standing to appeal the case. Any broad-based decision in favor of the lower court and against Prop 8 will have immediate implications on DOMA.

Windsor v. United States, No. 12-307

The justices will look at whether DOMA improperly interferes with states rights and/or whether it creates a separate and unequal class of Americans.  There seems to be nowhere to hide in this matter.  The party who has brought the case is the party who has claimed discrimination and DOMA is at the center of the mess.  With so many friend of the court briefs already filed, the high court finds itself snowed under the public sentiment that has mounted on both sides.  Sending the Prop 8 mess back to the west coast will undoubtedly mean that the court must tackle this one head on.  There seem to be suggestions in the comments from the justices that DOMA is about to get the boot.

Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer were partners for 44 years.  In 2007 they were married in Canada.  Subsequently, their marriage was recognized in New York where they lived.  Two years after marriage, Thea died.  She had multiple sclerosis which led to paralysis and death.  Following this tragic ordeal and decades of caring for her partner, the federal government came in to tax Thea’s estate as if Edie Windsor was a stranger with no particular rights to the property.  Under a federal law a spouse can leave assets to the other spouse without such taxes.  The determining factor in this type of case usually is whether the state sees the marriage as valid.  Although New York saw the two women as married, the federal government did not.  DOMA is the reason.  With an army of legal support Edie is challenging DOMA and seeking a refund of the taxes she feels she was illegally forced to pay.  Here the court can uphold Edie’s appeal and rule that DOMA is discriminatory and is unconstitutional.

The Court of Public Opinion

When the court heard oral arguments on Hollingsworth v. Perry, supporters on both sides as well as news outlets from around the country and around the world, decided to hold court on the courthouse steps. Some sounded as if they were there to show the court how to decide. Statements were made that the justices should take into account the growing public sentiment for same-sex marriage, or support the more traditional interpretation of marriage.  As people descended upon the court to try to influence the outcome, they forgot a basic part of their civics lesson (Do we still teach civics?).

The Supreme Court does not conduct a straw poll, Gallup Poll or any other type of survey.  They do not count the numbers of supporters on the courthouse steps.  They do not read the signs and banners on display out front.  If they listen to the press at all, they likely take little, if any, of it into account.  None of that is part of their job description.  They are there to uphold the Constitution of the United States.  They will decide whether the court has a right to take a position on a case.  They will decide if lower court decisions regarding federal laws are correct.  They will decide if federal laws (DOMA, for example) are constitutional.  They will not be swayed by any “God hates Fags” signs or Rainbow flags.  The essence of the Supreme Court is to deal strictly with the law and its application.  If they are swayed by public opinion, then they are not at all Supreme.  They are there to follow the Constitution and if we do not like the Constitution, it is our right to amend it.

And in the end…

Both sides may walk away disappointed.  Ruling that the supporters of Proposition 8 have no legal standing, or at least not in the case before the Supreme Court now, may return things to status quo in California.  If they set aside the lower court ruling, the battle of Prop 8 will be renewed.  As for DOMA, striking it down with the opinion that the federal government has no right to refuse to recognize a marriage that is legal in a state, means that every state can be a battle ground and that gay marriage has to be won one state at a time.  One thing is certain in all of this, no matter what the court rules in these two cases, the issue of same-sex marriage will not have been decided, not completely anyway.

Note:  Edie Windsor paid a 350,000 dollar tax bill because her spouse was a woman.  The ACLU and others have come to her defense and hope to win it back for her as well as gain a landmark decision.  If you wish to hear the argument before the Supreme Court, in order to know what the justices have heard, listen here.

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.

Pride

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud. One of the neighborhoods where I grew up was very Irish American. Indeed our parish was run by an Irish American bishop and there were always priests of Irish descent there. The Irish friends and families we knew seemed to enjoy life so much and were so proud of their heritage, it almost made you wish you were Irish too. Of course on St. Patrick’s Day just about everyone wishes they were Irish, if just for the day.
The next parish included the high school where I graduated. This fit our background a little better I suppose. My grandmother could sometimes be seen talking in German to neighbors. The neighborhood was and still is very German American. As we grew older we attended festivals and parties where we could enjoy our heritage. You could feel great pride in the traditions that remained from generation to generation. When the current pope was elected, old timers from the neighborhood began to just show up at church. Interestingly, the parish is St. Benedict. The pastor later told us that there was great pride in the election of the first German pope. People who came to church rather spontaneously expected something appropriate should be done, like say mass perhaps. They actually had not said mass in German for many years, but it seemed to be what would bring a great sense of pride to parishioners.
Support for, and pride in, our local sports seems to be taught to us from elementary school and little league and on through our adult lives. Chicago Bulls fans have had a great resurgence in pride the last two seasons that they have not had since the Michael Jordan era. Blackhawk fans have seen great improvement in recent years and even a Stanley Cup championship. Baseball fans always remain loyal. Even Cub fans inexplicably remain loyal and proud despite their continued futility. The many sports media outlets shows fans every day who are proud of their local heroes.
With all the things that make us feel proud in our lives and for all the things we wish we can find pride in, why should we wish to deny any group the opportunity to feel proud of their community? Honestly, there are many parades and celebrations in this city for which I have no desire to attend. Therefore, I skip them, of course. I would never dream of showing up to voice my displeasure at something they wish to celebrate. Why then do some feel the need to do this to others? Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself? Is it so hard for some to understand that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud? I guess that is the point I started on, isn’t it?

A coming out story

Despite everything that has been in the news lately, I thought I would shy away from this topic. It is often a political hot potato fraught with emotional arguments that have little to do with rational thinking. There seemed no reason to be another voice among the already countless raised voices. Then I caught a status message on Facebook that got me to rethink my position. A relative posted a status message that his daughter had put up. As I read through it, I was impressed with the thoughtful counter arguments regarding the opposition to gay marriage, as well intelligent remarks about being gay. I thought I need some of this when the haters start in with their venom.
As I read down the lengthy post I began to realize this was not just a rebuttal to recent actions in the news, particularly the gay marriage ban in North Carolina, but also a commentary by a relative of what it was like to grow up gay. I was totally unaware of the circumstances of her personal life or the problems that it brought her. She did not avoid the most difficult parts of the story, but put it out there bravely for us to see. I was moved by the willingness to try to help people understand by pointing to a personal story.
Unless you are a member of the 1 in 10 who grows up feeling different and alone, it is hard to understand what it is like. You may be picked on at school, bullied by classmates in ways much more hateful than mere childhood teasing. You might find the very thought of going to school as terrifying, and return home each day depressed, perhaps with thoughts of suicide. Recently a 14-year-old boy in Iowa took his own life as a result of the bullying at school and online. “Mom, you don’t know how it feels to be hated,” he had told his mother. He just could not live with it anymore.
What drives people to this kind of hatred? Recently I viewed some coming out stories on You Tube. The story of one young man absolutely stunned me. Angel did not appear to be overtly gay in his video. He told that his coming out was actually an accident. His father saw him kissing his boyfriend. The boy was often dropped off a block or more from home so his father would not see them. When the father got home he confronted Angel and demanded to know if he was a faggot. Angel knew if he said he was gay, he would get a beating, but he got one anyway. It was a severe beating the boy could hardly survive. When the father had to go out, Angel called for help. He did not call the police, his father was a cop. He called a hotline and then a family he thought might help. The woman told him to just get out and she would meet him at the corner. He did not make it that far. Bleeding he fell to the ground throwing up blood. He was found and eventually taken to a hospital emergency room. What father would beat his child almost to death because he dared to love someone not of his father’s choosing? Obviously, Angel recovered and was able to tell his story.
Imagine the terror many in the 10 percent may feel, if not for themselves, perhaps for their friends. Will today be the day they are bullied, beaten, or worse? Imagine not knowing who to trust, at home or at school. Imagine not knowing if life will hold anything of worth for you. “Imagine all the people living life in peace.”
Angel has forgiven his father, strange as that may seem. They have even talked since. When I saw his story, I did not have any idea about writing this, so I did not keep track of the You Tube link. I thought I would go back and find it to put at the bottom of this. I searched “A coming out story” since I thought that was the title and I got 149,000 results. For all the young gay people afraid to be who they are, you can be assured, you are not alone. I did find that most of these stories actually turn out well. Some were surprised at the acceptance they received. If you need some hope, search “it gets better.” It is the popular campaign of the Trevor Project. You will find hope shining through the dark night. I can not explain to you how people can use the Bible or other religious book to support a position of hate, it taught me that we should love one another as we should love ourselves. If you find it tough right now, for you or a loved one, don’t give in to the haters. It gets better.


http://www.thetrevorproject.org/