The nationwide NO H8 Campaign raising awareness about equality in its many forms through photographs will stop in Salt Lake City on Jan. 24, 4 p.m., at St. Paul’s Church, 261 S. 900 East.
The project was born early one morning when Jeff Parshley and Adam Bouska wanted to express a more personal side of the effects of the recent passage of California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage in the state.
“When the majority can vote on the rights and squash the rights of a minority, there’s a problem,” Parshley said. “After we took the photos we had this snowballing effect where everyone wanted to know about the photos and why we took them. After we explained why we supported marriage equality, other people wanted to get involved.”
The NO H8 Campaign was born shortly after and now has more than 20,000 photos, including many actors, politicians, business people and singers. The impressive list includes Cindy and Meghan McCain, Larry King, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Gloria Allred, Jeff Probst, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Zach Wahls, Gene Simmons, Slash, Rebecca Black, Sara Bareillas, Jane Lynch, Lisa Ling, Russell Simmons, Rebecca Fox, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Kathy Griffin, Courtney Love, Drew Carey, Karina Smirnoff, Paris Hilton, Valerie Bertinelli, Tom Bergeron, Emma Roberts and many more.
“The response has been overwhelming and we are so grateful for all the support we’ve received,” Parshley said. “But the photos are for everyone and creating the dialogue within your own family and friends is just as important. If you can help educate even one person, it can make all the difference.”
Parshley said he hopes the photos can help create conversations in Utah and show the nation that Salt Lake City has many fair-minded citizens. However, the decision to bring the photo campaign through one of the most conservative states in the nation was not made lightly, he said.
“We asked our supporters where they still wanted us to visit and the response from Salt Lake City was overwhelming. We were astounded at how many people said we need to visit Utah,” he said. “We are very aware of the connection Utah has with Proposition 8 and the Mormon Church, and that did play a part in our decision.”
While a large portion of the message with the NO H8 Campaign is about marriage equality, the message has spread to include all types of awareness, including gender inequality and gender identity discrimination, Parshley said. Everyone is invited to participate in the photo shoot and add their part to the global movement.
Charles Black, music director at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where the shoot will be held, said in a press release, “I have long admired Adam’s photography for the NOH8 Campaign. His stunning images of everyday people lending their silent support to the message of equality is inspirational to me. I’m so excited to welcome NOH8 to Salt Lake City and especially to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where the ideals of tolerance, inclusion and equality are celebrated. I plan to be first in line to add my photograph to this important part of our history.”
NOH8 photos cost $40 for a portrait, and $25 per person for couple or group photos. Interested volunteers should contact the NOH8 Campaign via email at [email protected]. Additional details can be found at NoH8Campaign.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Those that cannot attend the event in Salt Lake City can still participate in the program by uploading their own photos on the NO H8 Campaign website.