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December 14, 2011 Comments Off on It was NOH8 Day yesterday…should we really care? Views: 1551 Living, Marriage Equality, Media Beat, My Soapbox, News

It was NOH8 Day yesterday…should we really care?

Yes and No.

The “NOH8 Campaign” celebrated its 3rd Birthday yesterday, December 13, 2012, with a big party in West Hollywood. The iconic campaign created by photographer Adam Bouska and his partner Jeff Parshley features both celebrities and “average” folks in brightly lighted, heavily photoshopped photographs with duct tape over their mouths and “NOH8” stenciled on their face. Over 18,000 people have been photographed for the “NOH8 Campaign” including Jane Lynch, Miley Cyrus, Kathy Griffin, Lance Bass, Charo, Russell Simmons, David Hasselhoff and the Kardashians. The project was created to raise awareness for Marriage Equality, after the passage of Proposition 8 in California restricted same sex couples from marriage in that state. The distinctive photos have become synonymous with the marriage equality movement, with the photographs frequently seen in news stories and on the Facebook pages of thousands of participants. NOH8 has traveled across the country over the last three years to record the pride of thousands of LGBTQ men and women and our allies, including a visit to Seattle in 2010.

We congratualate the project for raising awareness. We admire Mr. Bouska and Mr. Parshley for coming up with the brilliant idea. We believe in marriage equality and we must continue to fight for it, and for all LGBTQ equal rights.

We also think NOH8 needs to either end its current campaign, and/or change its mandate and mission. They also need a bit of accountability. Here’s why.

MORE, after the jump.

It’s been three years, which is about the average lifespan of any ad campaign. It’s time to change the look of NOH8. Yes, it’s lovely and provocative, but it’s not doing much of anything now except preaching to the choir. (And, to be frank, has it ever done much more than that?) And, we’ve never been comfortable with the whole “tape over the mouth” imagery. It’s rather a defeatist image. Basically, the NOH8 photos say, “We’ve been silenced but I’m going to fight back by having my photo taken and then airbrushed to within an inch of it’s life!” What’s the real point of it?

Secondly, the money earned by NOH8 is not donated to any group fighting for marriage equality in any specific area; all money is used by NOH8 itself, to fund its operations. NOH8 was started in 2008 but didn’t receive non profit, tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) until a year ago. Its most recent income tax filing, for 2010, reveals their declared income.

It’s understandable that NOH8 has expenses and needs to fund itself, but we have a sneaky suspicion that many people who paid a minimum of $40 for a NOH8 photograph were under the impression that at least SOME of their money was actually going towards funding groups trying to actively ACHIEVE marriage equality via state by state legislation. And, NOH8 is largely a volunteer organization, at least for the individual helpers for each photo shoot with many needs such as locations and food, donated by businesses. The W Hotel chain has served as a partner for the group in the cities where it has a presence. $242k is a lot of money in operating expenses for such a small organization. And, frankly, is there some fudging going on here? They also sell other merchandise and solicit donations…a $420k gross for 2010 seems a bit lowball.

Yes, NOH8 has been a powerful media presence but other than pretty photos for our Facebook page and illustrations for blog articles, what has it actually achieved? Their website claims they’re “considering” doing bigger media campaigns including television:

Funds raised by the NOH8 Campaign will be used to continue promoting and raising awareness for marriage equality and anti-discrimination through NOH8’s interactive media campaign. This includes bringing the campaign to other cities around the country, as well as compiling the images for a large-scale media campaign. Under consideration is the expansion of our campaign to other media, including television and radio broadcast, billboards, and magazines. Contributions are also used to cover the daily operations and maintenance necessary to run this rapidly growing campaign.

That would be lovely of course…but television campaigns cost millions of dollars. And, it’s interesting to note that the NOH8 website currently only has one upcoming event listed on its calendar: The NOH8 Cruise to Tahiti in June of 2012.

Celebrate paradise with hosts Charlie David and NOH8 Co-Founders Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley on this very special NOH8 cruise featuring exclusive parties, get-togethers, and your own personal NOH8 photo shoot! And even better, your participation in this special sailing will result in a direct donation to the NOH8 Campaign. In the true spirit of this cause, this sailing is open not just to the gay community, but to their friends, family, and others seeking to make a difference.

Hmmmm….we’re a bit confused as to what a cruise to Tahiti accomplishes for Marriage Equality other than a lovely vacation for the participants and some more pretty photographs and maybe some more money for NOH8 to spend on itself and possible more parties.

NOH8 was a brilliant idea and did raise media awareness. It also needs to change course with a new format and new mandate. It’s already starting to veer into a tool to raise money for itself, ala GLAAD, and to not actually accomplish much of anything than producing pretty pictures and having cool events.

And, if you’re just aching to have a cool NOH8 style photo taken of yourself, here’s what you do:

  • Find friend/relative with a decent digital camera.
  • Hang white sheet in corner of a room.
  • Turn on every light in the room, and direct light towards that sheet.
  • Get your hair and make-up done. Put on a white shirt, or go topless if you wanna go the sexy route.
  • Take Photo.
  • Use a Photo enhancing tool to improve photo.
  • Post on Facebook.
  • Donate $40 to the nearest organization actually fighting for marriage equality in your location, or a location near you. In Washington State, head to the website for “Washington United for Marriage” to get more information, and to learn how to donate money and your time to the cause to actually achieve equality.

Sources for this article came from:

Pride Nation

 

Diversity News

WeHo Confidential

 

 

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