Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley are at the helm of something pretty spectacular in the LGBT community. Their thought-provoking silent protest against hate and Proposition 8 helped to create the widely-popular NO H8 Campaign that has transcended race, color, religion, sexuality and party lines ( Cindy McCain just posed ) .
I recently joined "the boys" in their studio in Los Angeles to have my photograph taken and chat with Adam and Jeff about Proposition 8, the upcoming pool party at The Dinah in Palm Springs and how the whirlwind that is the NO H8 Campaign all began. Oh, and Rosie O'Donnellif you're listening, they want you to call them.
Windy City Times: By now, I'm pretty confident that almost everyone has seen or at least heard of the NO H8 Campaign. For the few people who are unfamiliar with the NO H8 Campaign, can you describe what it is about and how it started?
Adam Bouska: The NO H8 Campaign is a silent photo protest we started in our living room in our apartment after the passage of Proposition 8 in California. It was never intended to be this big campaign. We just wanted to speak out to our social networks ( our own friends and family ) . The first photo was actually of Jeff. We took his photo after seeing victim of hate logos online. People had posted those, but we wanted people to lend their face to the cause and not hide behind logos. So, we started with Jeff's image and he posted it to his Facebook and then from there some of his friends saw it and it just grew and grew.
WCT: Was it hard for you to pose for the campaign, Jeff?
Jeff Parshley: No, well, I'm not a model or anything. We weren't actually intending for the photos to be anything huge at first, but then we started really getting into it and we were like, "let's do a protest photo. Like an anti-Prop 8 photo or something like that." It's so simple and so easyit's just the white shirt and the white background and it's very quick and makes a big statement we think.Read more story below....
WCT: Where did the name NO H8 come from?
JP: Well, we feel that any form of discrimination is a form of hate. Proposition 8 just kind of took on the name of Prop Hate in itself so we just kind of wanted to turn it into a no hate thing.
AB: Yeah and then it became a campaign essentially because of the photos and the way it was growing. It is a media campaign that has become a way to educate the masses. We want to get these images out there to show exactly who is in support of the cause and who is being discriminated against because it's good to see that and have a look in their eyes and be able to see that it's hate written on their faces. That is essentially what it is.
WCT: How did the silent part come into play with the duct tape?
AB: The duct tape is a symbolism of our voices not being heard.
JP: 48 percent of the state of California voted for "No" on Prop 8 but because the majority rules here, the 48 percent of the vote doesn't matter because 52 percent voted the other way. So, half of the state wants marriage equality but it doesn't matter because the majority doesn't want it.
AB: Yeah, if the majority of the people can vote on the rights of the minority, then the minority population is always going to lose. It's a failed system and there are a lot of errors with the whole system altogether.
WCT: I agree. So, tell us some of the people who have posed for you.
AB: Oh, gosh, I mean, it's been overwhelming in support. We have had a lot of celebrities as well as every day people. Most recently we had Cindy McCain, which got us a lot of good support.
JP: That is what is so good about the campaign because there may be someone out there who supports equal rights or marriage equality that you don't know. Not a lot of people out there knew that Cindy McCain supported marriage equality but now that she has done the campaign, everybody knows that she supports marriage equality. That is what is good about the campaign because it takes people and it shows them who really does support equal rights and it puts a face to it and puts it out there.
I think anybody who is following you or following us or anybody who is supportive of the campaign should tell other people and get the word out there so that everybody knows what is going on and the things that need to change.
AB: We've had all sorts of different people from all walks of life come out to support the NO H8 Campaign. We've had Kathy Griffin, Adam Carolla, Dr. Drew, Fran Drescher, Ashley Simpson-Wentz, Pete Wentz, Gloria Allred, Shanna Moakler, Steve-O, Isaiah Washington and others. It's been really cool to see these people coming out to support the cause. It's re-igniting the whole fire and the fight. I mean, it ( Proposition 8 ) happened back in November 2008 and nothing is being done about it. It needs to be an issue that's talked about every day.
JP: Every time we have someone come through that puts their face to it that is a high-profile person, it puts even the words "gay marriage" back on the TV and back in the newspapers. As long as we're talking about it, then people will know that it's still a problem.
AB: It's more than even just gay marriage. It's a human rights issue. We have "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and adoption rights. In the majority of the States, you can still be fired for being gay so that is a huge issue. So, even though Proposition 8 will be overturned one of these days, our fight will not be over. They won't put all of this in the media unless we talk about it and get it out there. It's our job in the LGBT media and community to protect these rights and fight for them. Even 20 years ago there wasn't a voice for our community and now there is and we have to make use of that privilege.
WCT: Too bad Harvey Milk isn't here.
AB: He would do a photo for us, I'm sure.
WCT: I'm sure he would!
JP: Cleve Jones, one of Harvey Milk's close friends, did a photo and Larry Kramer, founder of ACT UP also did a photo for us. It's just really a great, diverse group of people.
AB: It would be great to go up to the Castro District in the community outside of Harvey's photo shop sometime and shoot in that area.
WCT: Speaking of getting out into the community, NO H8 is going to The Dinah.
JP: The good thing about going to The Dinah is that a lot of people think of gay people as men, but there are a lot of gay women. It's about same-sex couples and it doesn't matter if they are male or female. The Dinah is all women and that is important. We all need to come together. Proposition 8 was formed to tear us apart and we need to come together.
AB: That's the silver lining of it all. Even though this was meant to tear us apart, we are going to use this to unite our community and re-ignite the fight. We need to make sure that this never happens again.
JP: Yeah, it's been about unacceptance when it should be about acceptance.
AB: A lot of people tend to hate things that they don't know. I feel that education is the tool to inform people about differences. It's just about fear of the unknown.
WCT: Exactly. So, you put well-known faces to the cause and there you go. It opens a whole new door of communication.
JP: Yes. So, we'll be at The Dinah. We'll get the Sunday pool party set up and do a shoot and then everybody will have the NO H8 on their faces and we'll try to take the biggest shoot that we have so far.
AB: We may need a very long lens for this one. We are hoping to get as many people into this one shot to show that, "Hey, we're all here in the same place at the same time for this cause."
JP: I am woman, hear me roar.
WCT: By the way, Suzanne Westenhoefer is going to be there on Friday night and Rosie O'Donnell will be there on Saturday night.
AB: We've been talking to Fran [ Drescher ] about trying to get Rosie to pose.
WCT: I don't see why she wouldn't do it. Rosie, are you reading this?
AB: I also heard that Ke$ha might be performing, too.
WCT: Yes, she is and I bet she'd do it, too.
AB: They are going to love her there. It'll be a lot of fun!
WCT: We need more people that just want to speak up for the cause to let it be known that we are not going away. You guys are going to be making this a very visible issue so, thank you for that.
AB: Well, this is going to be just the beginning. There is a lot to be done. We never intended it to be as large of a campaign as it has become. Now that we have everyone's attention, we are going to make use of that. We are still in the early stages and are building up this massive media arsenal. Essentially, anywhere videos and photos can go, we're going to make use of that. Billboards, magazines and broadcastsanything we have the budget to afford, we will make it possible. Even re-tweeting news stories about the issues seems to be a new way to involve people in an easy way.
WCT: Which cities have you been to with the NO H8 Campaign?
AB: San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Washington D.C., New Hampshire, New York and San Diego. We are hoping to go to Vegas, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Denver and everywhere else. There's even been talk about Madrid and Manchester [ England ] .
JP: It's a human right and there are humans in other countries besides America so we'd like to go around the world, too. It's not just this country that feels it. There are other countries going through the same thing. It's a world issue.
AB: NoH8Campaign.com is our Web site. All of our photos are there as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Please follow us and stop by for an open shoot when we get to your city.
Follow Sarah Toce on www.sarahtoce.com and www.lezzbook.com .
race takes shape
By ANDREW DAVIS
The Chicago aldermanic races will not take place until next year, but in the 46th Ward ( which includes Uptown, Buena Park and East Lakeview ) things are already heating up.
At least one openly gay individual is running for the position as James Cappleman told Windy City Times that he "absolutely intends" to run for alderman. Cappleman's Web site, www.JamesForChange.com , still contains information from his last run in 2007, when he lost a very close race to current Alderman Helen Shiller. However, he said that the site will be updated "in a couple months."
In an e-mail to Windy City Times, Cappelman stated, "I'm running because I am the frontrunner and have the best chances of winning against Ald. Shiller should she decide to run for a sixth term. No other candidate has my campaign experience, my name recognition, and my record of service throughout the ward.
"As it was true the last time ( despite what was promoted by the incumbent ) , this is not a campaign to get rid of any groups of people or to make the 46th Ward into Lincoln Park. It's not about promoting a war between [ two ] different groups of people.
"It's about building on the shared values of the community and working together for the benefit of all. It's about setting up a process of inclusion that invites and encourages community input. And it's about setting up systems that promote reform and an end to pay-to-play politics."
Cappleman has served as board president of LGBT Catholic organization Dignity Chicago. In addition, he has been very active in the HIV/AIDS community, having, among other things, co-founded a homeless shelter for people living with the disease in the late 1980s.
At least two other individuals are intending to run. Gerald Farinas ( www.Chicago46.com ) is running on a "weed and seed" program that would "weed out" criminals and "seed" human-services program, according to his Web site; he counts Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and entertainer Miss Foozie among his Facebook supporters. Police officer Michael Carroll ( www.Carroll46.com ) , who is completing his master's degree thesis in public policy and administration at Northwestern University, is also running; his platform includes, among other things, an "open and honest government."