Monday, July 9, 2012

FRESNO BEE: NOH8 photo shoot comes to Fresno

Courtesy Fresno Bee  Written by Mike Osegueda

The list of celebrities that have been part of the iconic NOH8 photo campaign range from Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian to Gene Simmons and Larry King.

Even Fresno-bred actor Christopher Gorham has participated in the campaign. His wife and their three children put "NOH8" temporary tattoos on their cheeks, duct tape over their mouths and posed in front of the camera of photographer Adam Bouska to show their support for marriage equality and gay rights.
Now, a few hundred more Fresnans will have the chance to join the NOH8 Campaign, too.

Photographers from NOH8 are in Fresno on Friday for an open photo shoot, where anybody can pay to take a photo of their own. It's happening from 5-8 p.m. at The Big Red Church, 2131 N. Van Ness Ave. Solo portraits cost $40 and group shots cost $25 per person.

Money raised supports the NOH8 Campaign, which is a nonprofit organization that uses its money to "promote and raise awareness for marriage equality and anti-discrimination on a global level." 

Locally, this is about more than emulating celebrities and being part of a pop-culture phenomenon. 

Chris Jarvis, who heads Gay Central Valley, spent nine months convincing the campaign to visit Fresno. 

"So that our faces are out there, too," Jarvis says. "I want the LGBT community in Fresno to feel like we're more of a bigger plan in the country."

The NOH8 Campaign has taken more than 24,000 pictures since it began after the 2008 election, when Proposition 8, the ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage, passed in California by 600,000 votes. Organizers have said the duct tape in the pictures symbolizes "voices being silenced by Prop. 8 and similar legislation around the world."

In Fresno, the Prop. 8 gap was even wider than the state as a whole. It was approved by nearly 69% of the vote. That's another reason, Jarvis says, he pursued the NOH8 campaign so persistently.

"Fresno sometimes gets left out of the loop because we're in a very conservative pocket of California," he says. "Ever since this group started, we wanted to bring them here so that Fresno could have a voice in their campaign."

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