More than five years since its inception, the NOH8 Campaign has grown to over 33,000 faces and continues to grow at an exponential rate. The campaign began with portraits of everyday Californians from all walks of life and soon rose to include politicians, military personnel, newlyweds, law enforcement, artists, celebrities, and many more. It has become an iconic brand and in addition to sharing poweful, visual statements, funds raised by NOH8 are used to promote and raise awareness for Marriage Equality and anti-discrimination on a global level.
And as I am huge advocate for Marriage Equality and equal rights, I jumped on an opportunity to interview NOH8 founders, Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley. It's taken a bit of time to connect but I am so honored and grateful they took the time. They are heroes to me.
Q: How did the style of your photos (the logo + white shirt and background + duct tape) come about?
A: When we were originally toying with the concepts of what would ultimately become the signature NOH8 look, we wanted to find a simple way to illustrate the way we felt. We felt like our voices were being forcibly silenced by Prop 8, so we came up with the visual of subjects being silenced with duct tape while their protest of "NOH8" spoke past the tape. We chose plain white shirts against a plain white background to put the focus on each person as an individual and the connection through their eyes.
Q: When you first started taking these photos, did you intend for them to become such a polarizing component of the fight for gay rights?
A: We like to call ourselves accidental activists. We never intended to create a campaign, we were just looking for a way to speak out on our social media the best way we knew how. It wasn't until we posted our own photos and had friends reach out wanting to do photos and get involved that we realized NOH8 was taking on a life of its own; something bigger than just the two of us. So many people were looking for a way to express their feelings on how Prop 8 affected them, and NOH8 became a way for them to sum up their feelings through just one picture.
Q: You’ve photographed “regular people,” celebrities, politicians – even dogs and cats. Have there been any real surprises in your shoots? Anyone who showed up and blew you away?
A: There have been so many touching moments for us over the years. One of the great things about NOH8 photos is that everybody brings their own individuality and their own story, and it's been amazing to meet so many people and learn about why the fight for equal rights matters to them. The issue really is so relative, as everybody can relate to being discriminated against or bullied for being themselves. It doesn't matter if you're a celebrity or not; everybody has their own unique network of friends, family, and peers that they can share their message of support with. One of the most surprising photos for us was Cindy McCain (wife of Senator John McCain), which is why it was so it was important for us to tell her story and show that support of equality is not a party issue. And her story was just one of thousands!
Q: What would you still like to accomplish? What lies ahead for the next five years?
A: In just over five years, we've taken over 35,000 NOH8 photos in 45 states and 17 countries, and we can only hope to achieve as much in the next five years as we have in the first five. There is still a lot of hate in the world, and we plan on continuing to spread the message anywhere and everywhere we can until all people across the world are treated equally.
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Adam and Jeff, you've won my heart. Thank you for all that you do.
Here is what you need to know if you don't watch this show. Louie has spent years trying to get models to sleep with him despite their complete lack of interest, but he won't give a chubby waitress, Vanessa (Sarah Baker), the time of day even though she's incredibly charming, funny and, for whatever reason, into Louie.
What ensued in last night's episode of the witty FX show was authentic, charming and wonderful.
My heart breaks. This is real. It is so brave and beautiful and earnest.
Someone please give Sarah Baker and Louis C.K. all the Emmys in all the land. Immediately. At the very least, please give them my best wishes and heartfelt gratitude.
Come on, everybody. How much do we love these guys?
First of all, YES! Maks is back. After some time away from DWTS, my future husband is back, often shirtless, and making every week a swoon-fest for me. And he could not have asked for a better partner in world renowned ice dancer and recent Olympic Gold Medalist Meryl Davis.
Meryl has been absolutely breathtaking to watch. Her talent and spirit both are amazing. You can just tell she's having a blast and enjoying her partnership with the show’s returning resident bad boy of ballroom, Maksim Chmerkovskiy. And there have been a couple of unique twists to boot. For starters, Meryl's ice dancing partner of 17 years, Charlie White, is also competing this season (with my featured fave from last year, no less, Sharna Burgess). Also, in a new twisty idea to shake up the show, Meryl got to switch partners for a week, making her the first lucky gal to compete with both Chmerkovskiy brothers in one season.
It's a tough life, y'all.
I've already predicted the final two of this season - I am convinced it will be Meryl and Charlie. And I really think if that's the case - with apologies to her incomparable skating partner - I really think Meryl's getting that mirror ball trophy this year.
#DWTS prediction right now - in the end, it's gonna be Meryl v. Charlie.
But really, it is a humongous honor that I got to do a "Five Questions" with Meryl. Olympic accomplishments aside, she is just a lovely person that anyone would be lucky to know.
AJ: Tell us a little about all the things you do in combination with your rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule to stay in shape! What's tougher on your body - the Olympics or Dancing With the Stars?
MD: My fitness routine has definitely changed since training for the Olympic Games. While Charlie and I worked-out 3 days a week leading up to the Games, including weight, cardio and circuit training, I now really only add cardio to our skating and dance training when time permits... It has been a rather hectic few months to say the least. My must-have workout, though, is a session on the Elliptical.
AJ: What's been your favorite dance this season so far and why? (I think mind is a tie between your Argentine Tango with Val and your Jungle Book Samba with Maks!)
MD: With each dance this season, I feel like I'm having more and more fun. This is a trend I'm quite pleased with and hoping to continue. I've had some very different dances week to week and have had a blast switching-up styles and rhythms after each show!
Note: I submitted these questions just before last week's episode... Each week, I find myself saying "Ok, this one is my favorite." Last week's? No exception. It was STUNNING:
Back to business...
AJ: Since you've had the rare opportunity to work with both Maks and Val in this season, you have to dish! How do they differ as partners?
MD: How could I possibly be luckier? Being partnered with Maks, then working with Val for the week of the switch-up.... what an experience! Both brothers are absolutely incredible. Maks and Val have very different teaching styles, but in the end it's a true honor to learn from both.
AJ: When you want to treat yourself, what do you eat and drink?
MD: I'm big on chocolate. While I'm generally a very healthy eater, my extremely active lifestyle allows me to indulge in my sweet tooth rather regularly. My beverage of choice as of late is usually some kind of coffee. Soy latte, coffee with almond milk and raw sugar...from our nights of sleeping on the tour bus for Stars on Ice to overnight flights from the East Coast to the West for Dancing with the Stars, I've become a more regular coffee drinker out of necessity.
AJ: You have obviously been all over the world now. When you travel, what are some of the things you absolutely must have with you?
MD: I always bring a few things with me when I travel. My phone has become an absolute necessity, in which I imagine I'm not alone. I also like to bring a reliable snack with me for the road; I usually keep a box of Nutri-Grain bars in my bag. I've also become quite dependent upon my travel pillow...With the schedule Charlie and I have been keeping the last few months, we've learned to use our time on the road as an opportunity to catch-up on sleep.
I cannot thank Meryl Davis enough for taking the time to respond to my questions!!!
Tune into DWTS tonight, 8/7c on ABC and be ready to vote for Meryl and Maks - it's Latin night and it's sure to be HOT!
As I am always on the look out for the latest and greatest online communities and have yet to find one that has really built itself up around the film indsutry well, I was intrigued by MovieLaLa and will be curious to see how it develops.
In celebration of its launch, they shared this infographic with me and since it's Oscar week, it seemed like a fun time to share it with you! I love the Oscars and can't wait to watch! (Idina Menzel is performing "Let it Go" from Frozen and in case you hadn't heard, I kind of like that movie.)