Jeff Parshley & Adam Bouska – NOH8 Campaign Co-Founders
Jeff Parshley co-founded the NOH8 Campaign with his partner Adam Bouska. Motivated by Proposition 8, California’s statewide ban on same-sex marriage in 2008, they started a photo protest that now travels internationally where subjects are silenced with a strip of duct tape and are tattooed with “NOH8.”
“We have no end date – there’s more issues than marriage equality in all fifty states,” Parshley tells GayRVA.com.
GayRVA.com: What’s the largest number of people you’ve photographed in one day?
Parshley: In Dallas, TX, we shot 842 people in one day. Adam photographs about 100-125 people in an hour with supporters.
Tell me about the energy at a shoot.
Everybody’s there for the same reason. That makes the vibe a whole lot different. They’re all excited, they’re there for a good cause. Before Prop8 passed, we were not activists. It sparked us enough to do the photos. We hope being there sparks something more in our subjects than just have their photo taken. It’s about taking it to another level. They use it, they talk about it, they get involved.
What inspired you to take the project nationwide?
It started in response to Prop8 but we realized that’s something that can happen anywhere, but we don’t want to see this happen again.
What type of undertaking was that? Can you describe that process? How many people on team now helping? Volunteer led?
The campaign is only run by Adam, myself, and two other people. We basically started with our family and friends in our area and we used that to spread the message and build our presence on social media.
We found people hearing our message and spreading our message. There are a lot of organizations working for this equality for everybody, but we’re actually putting the faces behind the names of the supporters.
What has your experience been bringing the project to the South?
They’re all there for the same reason – to support part of the movement. We’ve never had any protesters in the south. With 80 photoshoots in three years, we’ve only had one protester show up at one photoshoot.
Do you have a timeline for the campaign? Is there an end-date in mind, or are you going to keep going?
Although Prop8 may be ruled unconstitutionaly – there are other states where marriage is not legal. We’re going to focus on everybody and unite this country hopefully and continue moving forward with NOH8.
The ultimate vision and goal for the campaign is to raise awareness and educate people in the country – we can put a lot of things out there to a lot of eyes that the mainstream media isn’t focusing on. We’re evolving throughout the world with these photos.
Adam’s background is celebrity photography? How has that helped?
It definitely helps – they have put their faces on the campaign and we’ve been able to reach all their fans. Those fans are all so different. You have people that are fans of Slash and people that are fans of Miley Cyrus.
Or Cindy McCain who is a face for Republicans – it can really change minds.
Kevin Clay is the editor and publisher of GAYRVA.COM. He is a Richmond native, loves the city and knows it's on the edge of greatness. Don't hold back RVA. You can follow Kevin on GAYRVA's Twitter or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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