(Photo from NOH8 Campaign’s Orlando Facebook event page)
ORLANDO | The NOH8 equal rights campaign will be coming to the LGBT+ Center on Saturday, Feb. 24 from 2-4 p.m. for a photoshoot event.
The campaign has included NOH8 photoshoots across the country since 2008. Participation in the event is available to all for a fee of $40 for solo photos and $25 per person for group photos.
Everyone is welcome to come and participate regardless of who you are, says Jeff Parshley, who co-founded NOH8 with his partner, photographer Adam Bouska.
The two started the campaign as a response to the passing of proposition 8 in California that banned same-sex marriage. For years after they fought for equal marriage rights by holding photoshoots across the country featuring people in white T-shirts on a white background, often with duct tape over their mouth to symbolize the way their voices were being silenced.
Parshley said NOH8 is about “putting a face to the fight for equality, building a sense of community, creating a dialogue with photos, and helping to provide tools to people to create those dialogues and get the conversation started.” Since then, the campaign has grown to massive proportions and even featured celebrities and politicians who support the cause.
Now, even in the years since same-sex marriage was legalized, Parshley says, the fight against hate of all kinds is just as important as ever.
“Sadly, I think hate is more relatable today than it was when we started,” he says. “In 2008, we started the campaign fighting for marriage equality, and there’s people in our community today that are literally fighting for their lives because they can’t get the health care they need.”
For Parshley, NOH8 is about much more than just equal rights for LGBTQ+ people, its about love and support for all people from all places.
The photoshoots have attracted all kinds of people who resonate with the message of no hate for lots of different reasons, from economic disparities to religious discrimination. This is where the impact of NOH8 is really felt, with each person that attends the photoshoots and joins in on spreading the message.
“Yesterday we had a photoshoot and people are coming up saying ‘Thank you for still doing this. It’s so important right now that we have a way to connect and speak out,’” Parshley says. “Our supporters go so above and beyond to participate even when its so far out of their comfort zone.”
Parshley made it clear that everyone can and should attend the photoshoot, regardless of modeling experience. For those that are hesitant to participate, Parshley adds the event is designed to accommodate everyone even if they’ve never done anything like this before. As the photographer, Bouska will direct each person on how to pose and bring their personality out into the photo.
“Ninety-five precent of the people that have taken photos for the campaign are not models, they’re not celebrities. They are just everyday people that believe in the message of equality and they want to participate and want to make a difference,” Parshley says.
Even for those who do not feel comfortable or cannot afford to participate in the professional shoots, NOH8 has a section of their website dedicated to self-taken photographs so everyone can be a part of the campaign.
Participating in a simple event like this is all it takes to start making a difference in Parshley’s experience. In his many years with the campaign, Parshley says he has seen people start hesitantly with their photoshoots and then watched them snowball into being full on activists and volunteering in their communities.
“We were not activists prior to the campaign starting, the photoshoots sparked out activism,” says Parshley.
When asked about when, if ever, would NOH8’s job be complete, Parshley says that 15 years ago he would never have expected it to go this far, but now more than ever they are needed.
“There’s the blatant disregard for humans, like the trans community, is under attack right now. I don’t know that I see an end because it hasn’t gotten much better since it started,” Parshley says.
Parshley adds that as long as they are able to provide people an outlet to stand against hate, they will always continue to do so.
NOH8 Campaign’s Orlando open photoshoot will be Feb. 24 from 2-4 p.m. at the LGBT+ Center Orlando, located at 946 N. Mills Ave. No tickets are required, solo photos are $40 and group photos are $25 per person. For more information, visit NOH8 Campaign’s event page here.