The photography campaign that has spawned nearly 6,000 photos of celebrities and every day people with duct tape across their mouths and “NOH8” painted on their faces began two years ago in an L.A. apartment at about 3 a.m.
Photographer Adam Bouska and his partner, Jeff Parshley, were devastated when California voters approved Prop 8, a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, in the November 2008 election. The two men felt silenced in their home state and wanted to do something to protest Prop 8.
“It was natural we come up with a plan to use photographs … this was on everyone’s mind and we were looking for ways to get involved,” Bouska said in an interview from his L.A. home as he prepares for a Jan. 16 NOH8 photo shoot in Atlanta.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. noted that the gulf between different groups of people was widened not only by outright racism, but also by the unspoken acceptance of the status quo. Although the white and black gay populations in King’s hometown have gained tremendous vibrancy and clout since his era, modern Atlanta’s gay social scene can sometimes feel as segregated as 1950s lunch counters and water fountains.
“We’re creatures of habit, and we tend to stick to things and people that we are accustomed to,” says Gregory Allen, CEO of Xtreme Entertainment, which hosts “The Lion’s Den” parties. “We tend to stay in our own neighborhoods, we tend to party in our own circles.
“There are so many subsets of the LGBT community, and without actually taking the initiative or making the effort to really bring the cultures together, everyone just goes to their own corner — African-Americans partying in their own circle, Caucasians partying in their own circle, Hispanics partying in their own circle,” he adds.
The Bayard Rustin/Audre Lorde community breakfast focused on "resilience" in the LGBT community
Editor's note: This article by Atlanta journalist and GA Voice contributor Ryan Lee was published in the Dec. 17, 2004, issue of the Washington Blade and is reprinted with permission. It is an insightful look back at the past public stands of the pastor who is now accused of sexual coercion of three young men at his church.