NoH8 Campaign Comes to Atlanta

by Conswella Bennett
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Jan 12, 2011

The popular grassroots photographic silent protest campaign NOH8 will hold an open photo shoot in Atlanta on Monday, Jan. 16 at the W Hotel in Midtown as a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities.

Josh Noblitt, the minister of Social Justice at St. Mark United Methodist Church, was moved to invite celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and his partner Jeff Parshley, creators of NOH8, because it fit in with the meaning of the King Holiday.

The King Holiday is known for honoring the life and contributions of the great Civil Rights leader who fought for justice and equality for everyone.

So, some 25 years later, activist are still fighting for equality and Noblitt could not think of a better time to have the two to return to Atlanta but this time for an open photo shoot.

Bouska and Parshley were in Atlanta a little over a year ago. The two photographed only local celebrities and members of the Atlanta Housewives television show.

The NOH8 campaign was created by Bouska and Parshley as a response to the November 4, 2008, passage of Proposition 8 in California. Proposition 8 amended the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Besides the NOH8 campaign, Noblitt said there has been a lot going on in the LGBT community lately. The recent repealing of the 17-year-old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and the creation of the It Gets Better Project, to show young LGBT people that they are not alone and that things will get better.

Noblitt himself is still trying to come to terms with his own tragedy. It was only six months ago that he was a victim of a hate crime in Piedmont Park when he was robbed at gunpoint by a group of teens.

The teens felt the need to beat him up because he and his partner were gay. Ttrue to his nature, however, Noblitt wanted to focus his energy on not only healing himself but the city as well.

The process to bring Noblitt justice has been rolling slowly. "I needed to make some meaning out of the process," he said. A preliminary hearing was held last month, but it was delayed until mid January. The teens arrested in his assault are being charged as adults.

So helping to bring the NOH8 campaign to Atlanta is a part of his healing efforts.

"It's the first time they are doing an open shoot here, and it was something I could do to channel my frustrations and to channel it into something positive and feel like I could make some meaning out of it," Noblitt said.

After all that was the goal of the first photo Bouska took of his partner Parshley at 3 a.m. "We wanted a way to speak out and put some meaning behind the way we were feeling," Parshley added.

At first their photographs with the silver duct tape over their subjects mouths and black NOH and a red 8 were to be simply used on their social network sites with the hopes of getting their friends to raise questions about the meaning behind the picture.

The duct tape over their mouths symbolized their voices being silenced by Prop 8 and similar legislation around the world. It worked and spread quickly not only among their friends, but other LGBT activists and celebrities posed to show their support.

The goal, according to Parshley by visibly showing the faces in their picture was to show that the person photographed had their rights taken away and that person was someone they knew -- a brother, sister, mother, father, or a friend, etc.

Ironically, Bouska and Parshley were not activists before Proposition 8. "We were very energized by what we saw happening in the streets after Proposition 8 passed," Bouska added of the number of LGBT grassroots efforts that began cropping up. Although, Proposition 8 occurred in California, Bouska noted it was important to spread the word because, "if it can happen in California, it can happen anywhere."

It is only fitting that they would come to Atlanta to take part in the weekend's activities. "The symbolism and message," Bouska said of Martin Luther King Jr., one of the founders of the civil rights movement. "It (photo shoot) feels like we're picking up his message and reiterating it - equal rights for everyone," he added.

According to a Facebook page set up for the open photo shoot, Noblitt so far 900 to 1,000 people have said they will participate in the photo shoot.

The photo shoot is scheduled to begin at 3pm and end at 7 p.m. Anyone who would like to join the NOH8 Campaign is asked to wear a plain white shirt to match the look of the signature NOH8 photos.

Solo NOH8 photos will require a fee of $40 per person while any group or couple photos will require a $25 fee per person in the photo.

Along with Noblitt, the Emory Center for Ethics and Nikki Noto, with V-Day, a global movement that works to end violence against women and girls, helped to sponsor the NOH8 visit to Atlanta. The W Hotel is located at 188 14th St. NE, Atlanta, GA.


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