He is a petite man with a big camera and an even bigger vision. Celebrity photographer Adam Bouska has harnessed the pain of California’s Proposition 8 to create a brilliant avenue for equality advocates to showcase their support for marriage equality.
The NO H8 Campaign started after 6,068,393 Californians ripped the freedom to marry from gay and lesbian couples by voting for Proposition 8. Bouska and his partner Jeff Parshley created an outlet for people to display how their rights have been silenced by the proposition. Its simplicity is stunning — photos featuring people posing with white T-shirts, duct taped mouths and the “NO H8” message combine to form a powerful statement.
It immediately reminded me of seeing Christina Aguilera in concert many years ago. She put on a big fancy production with outrageous sets and glittery outfits, but when it came time to close with “Beautiful,” they cleared the stage of everything and Christina donned just a white t-shirt and jeans as she sang acappela. The song didn’t need any glitz and glamour because the substance was so important and it speaks for itself — just like the NO H8 campaign.
Last month, the NO H8 Campaign held it’s first open photo shoot in Los Angeles and my husband and I jumped at the chance to be a part of it. I soon realized that the power of the campaign was much stronger than I had originally anticipated when our best friends, a straight married couple named Kurt and Carlen, eagerly accepted the invitation to go. I was deeply moved that they would be willing to give up an entire Sunday to wait in line for hours and pay a lot of money to show their support for marriage equality.
They were definitely not the only straight allies there, which is one of the most beautiful aspects of the campaign — it transcends demographics much better than most outreach efforts ever could. The photo shoot was held in a church (how cool is that?) and the crowd in the line was a diverse cross-section of Southern California. Young, old, gay, straight, trans, drag, couples, individuals and families were all there to officially lend their face to the movement for equality so they could show the people in their lives exactly where they stand.
The ability of the campaign to reach unlikely allies has not gone unnoticed. Most famously, while Republican John McCain continues his journey to the fringe right, the campaign scored NO H8 photos of Cindy and Meghan McCain. Meghan liked the experience so much that she booked Bouska to shoot her book cover as well. Throughout the numerous years that Cindy McCain has been in the public eye, she has never proclaimed her support for marriage equality, but the NO H8 Campaign was able to serve as a comfortable outlet for her to display her support.
Overall, the NO H8 photo shoot was a highlight in my advocacy experience. I am thrilled to have a beautiful keepsake to document that we are on the correct side of history. The campaign will hold another open photo shoot at Long Beach Pride on May 15 and if you are in Southern California, I highly recommend going and bringing some straight allies with you.
Photo credit: Adam Amel Rogers