There's is nothing more unattractive on a man or woman than a narrow mind and intolerance for those who are different. That's my personal opinion, and I'm sticking to it. That's why when I heard the NOH8 movement was coming to Chicago, I had to stop by and witness the event.
If you've been living under a rock, NOH8 is a campaign to have Proposition 8 turned over in California. Again, if you've been living under a rock, Prop 8 was a ballot, and then an amendment, created by the California state legislature to overturn the California Supreme Court's ruling that legalized gay marriage in California. The Proposition 8 ballot stated that state recognized marriage could only be between a man and a woman, thus nullifying the Supreme Court's ruling.
Now that we've had that little refresher course, let's talk about what NOH8 was doing in Chicago....
NOH8 was founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley. After Prop 8 passed, they created the silent photo campaign, NOH8. It started with Bouska shooting close-ups of Californians supporting the overturn of Proposition 8. Now, the campaign is filled with portraits of celebrities, politicians, and the everyday Joe that supports equality for the GLBT community.
Last Monday, the NOH8 campaign made a pit stop at the W hotel on Adams in the loop. Boys, girls, men, and women of all ages, shapes, sexualities, and religious backgrounds lined up to have their photo taken. Several groups of high school aged kids from miles around showed up in droves to show their support and have their pictures taken by Adam Bouska.
In the main ballroom a video urging equal rights for the GLBT community played as supporters filled out their paperwork and got their NOH8 tattoos painted on their cheeks. In the smaller ballroom, merchandise was sold as a streaming video to the NOH8 campaign website captured the supporters coming in waves to get their photo taken for the campaign.
After checking in, the supporters made their way to the "tape station", where their mouths were sealed with duct tape, signifying the voices silenced by Proposition 8 and other anti-gay rights legislature. After their mouths were taped, groups and individuals alike had a mini photo shoot with Bouska. He would take up to 18 pictures, and would choose the best to add to the campaign forum. Despite the large turnout, Bouska bid every single supporter adieu with a hug and a thank you.
I asked one of the chaperones for a high school group participating why he felt it was important to let the kids paticipate in the campaign. "I think their generation is the generation that's going to finally get it," said Mike, 46 from Niles. "Gen X and even Gen Y grew up with stigmas surrounding homosexuals. This new generation is growing up with people fighting the system of intolerance in this country. I think they're the best hope to get equal rights for gays and lesbians. And they really bothered me to bring them here [laughs]!"
Steve and Tyler, from Lombard, said that they are sick of being looked at as a sad case by their straight friends. "A lot of times, we have friends that are planning their weddings and say something like they're sad that we'll never really be able to have that. It 's horrible!" said Steve. Tyler added, "It's defeated attitudes like that, that are going to keep the laws the way they are in this country. I'm glad so many people turned out for this. It's good to know so many people want the same thing we do."
Needless to say, it was a heavy event to witness. Jovial voices and faces became silent and intense as they made their way to the tape station. Even before tape was applied to mouths, supporters became eerily quiet in revrence for the struggle for equal rights.
The NOH8 campaign is on a nationwide tour to photograph supporters for GLBT equal rights. At the end of the tour, they will be implenting the photos into the new phase of the campaign. Visit www.noh8campaign.com to learn more about the movement for equal rights, view photos, donate, and volunteer.
Also, this Wednesday is Wear Purple Day. It was created to show support and honor the memories of the 6 young men who in recent months, took their own lives to escape the homophobic bullying they endured from peers and family members. This Wednesday (October 20th) wear purple to support equal rights and tolerance for those in the GLBT community, and to honor the memories of those who could no longer take the abuse and intolerance of those around them.
And remember...tolerance is always in style.