Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley – NOH8 Campaign – LGBT Activism Needs to be a Part of Your Daily Life!

Photographer ADAM BOUSKA

became a LGBT activist quite by accident. He calls it “accidental activism“. Gosh, he has come a long way in the 6 years we have known him!

We met Adam in 2003.  He was living here in the suburbs of Chicago and had just graduated college where he studied Computer Science. Being a photographer myself, I was always on the lookout for fresh new young talent. I met Adam and asked him to pose for me. During the shoot, he confided that Computer Science was not really his passion. And though he was dabbling with modeling, it was the art of photography that really intrigued him.

Shortly afterwords, Adam moved to Southern Californina. We stayed in touch now and then through  MySpace and watched as his young budding career began to blossom.

It didn’t take long and his name was sprouting up everywhere!

In November 2008, Proposition 8 in California happened. California wanted to put a stop to the idea of gay marriage. The defeat of Prop 8 provoked a groundswell of activism within the LGBTQ community and many new political and protest organizations were formed in response to the defeat. It was like Stonewall was happening again!

Adam was in Chicago this weekend speaking at LGBT CHANGE UNITE + FIGHT,  EAA Midwest Conference at Columbia College. The conference ran 3 days and was a series of workshops and speakers geared towards  activism in the hopes to fire up the Midwest LGBTQ communities.

Adam, his partner Jeff Parshley  and some friends attended the Prop 8 rallies in Los Angeles. Afterwords, they got so emotionally stirred they knew they wanted to do something,  to make some kind of statement. He and a dozen friends went to the store and bought some paints and duct tape, went back to his apartment and shot photos. Using photography as his voice, Adam placed tape over their mouths and painted the now famous NOH8 on their cheeks, and the next day posted their images to MySpace and Facebook, to demonstrate their silent protest.

Before he knew it, a dozen more friends wanted to do the same thing . Adam shot more photos and those friends also posted them online. The next month 30 of their friends wanted the same photos! It started to grow exponentially. In the 6 months that followed it exploded and nearly 500 people had been photographed and pictures were flooding the Internet.

Soon celebrities want to join in and show their support. To date, 3,000+ faces have been shot by Adam and his team for the NOH8 Campaign. 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.

Cindy McCain, wife of former Presidential candidate Senator John McCain, was even photographed by Adam, speaking out on behalf of gay marriage rights as part of a popular ongoing photo campaign. “Cindy McCain wanted to participate in the campaign to show people that party doesn’t matter – marriage equality isn’t a Republican issue any more than it is a Democratic issue. It’s about human rights, and everybody being treated equally in the eyes of the law that runs and protects this country.”

The NOH8 Campaign has received overwhelming support from around the world, appearing on various local and national news programs and publications. The images are currently being used on various social networking sites to spread the message of equality, predominantly Facebook and Twitter. Eventually the images are expected to be compiled for a large-scale media campaign. The group just shot their 3rd PSA. There has been talks of  billboards, possible calendar, coffee table books and even a documentary.

Just last month the team shot 500 people in 5 hours in New York City. Adam hopes to tour major cities soon, doing more open shoots and spreading the message across the country. “This is much bigger than just  about Prop 8.  And when we win this, when Prop 8 is overturned, and it will be,  we’re not stopping.  It’s about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell….it’s about gay civil rights….it’s about equal rights…it’s about making our silence heard….it’s about the big picture now! And we have only just begun!”  Groups as far away as Germany and  Australia have even started similar campaigns.

Remember when Gay Pride and National Coming Out  day was just once a year? Thanks to the power of Social Media and the interconnectedness of the Internet these days, we can make a statement about who we are and show the world our messages. “Activism needs to be a part of your DAILY LIFE and your lifestyle. Not just once a year.”

THE NOH8 store online  has t-shirts, bumper stickers, tattoos and my favorite, THE BRACELET!

Funds raised by the NOH8 Campaign will be used to continue promoting and raising awareness for Marriage Equality and anti-discrimination on a global level through an educational and interactive media campaign.

Adam will hopefully get back to Chicago later this year for an Open Call NOH8 shoot here. We’ll keep you posted!

Adam Bouska
Adam Bouska MySpace
Adam Bouska FaceBook

Michael  Snell and Derrick Sorles   BEST GAY CHICAGO / BEST GAY NEWS