Leone Kraus

An Interview with NOH8: The Silent Photo Protest

Filed By Leone Kraus | September 28, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Adam Bouska, Jeff Parshley, Kraus Notes, NOH8

I'm sure you've seen them by now, all the celebrities, public figures, and every day people posing in white shirts and 'NOH8' inked onto their faces. Instead of boring you with my explanation of who Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley are, why don't you just check out this PSA video.

After the jump is an interview with Jeff Parshley, co-founder of the NOH8 campaign

1. What social media platforms do you currently use to promote the NOH8 campaign?

Social Media is a HUGE part of the NOH8 Campaign. The Campaign was started as a way to speak out to our social media networks and display our message and our opinion about the passing of Prop 8. Right now the NOH8 Campaign largely works through Facebook and Twitter. We also have our interactive website for people to sign up and comment on pictures, see news updates and follow our progress. In addition to these, we also have a presence on Myspace.com, Youtube.com, Bebo.com, LinkedIn, google.com/buzz and Flickr.com.

2. When you first began, you had a presence on YouTube and Flickr but it appears as though you're not promoting these platforms on the NOH8 site. Are these omissions a strategic move? If so, why?

We are still in the beginning stages in regards to our website and we do plan to make more of a push to our other social networking sites via www.noh8campaign.com.

3. I've been following the NOH8 campaign since February of 2010. It appears as though you've almost doubled, if not tripled the participation in the campaign since I began watching. Has social media been the driving force behind the increase in participation? If so, do you have any specific strategies you use on any of the platforms that you would like to share?

Our campaign is based around the social networking concept. The reason for this is because it allows us to reach people not only in the USA but across the world. Each and every person has a different group of friends and/or Followers. So when they upload their NOH8 Photo or ask their friends/followers to support our campaign it reaches a whole new group of people that might not already know about the NOH8 Campaign. As far as any specific strategies, the main thing we try to do is keep everyone informed. We are constantly posting articles about current issues at hand. One of the stronger messages we try to send to everyone is that this is not a 1 day fight. This is a fight for Human rights and there are Humans all over the world that need our continuous help and support.

4. I must say, the NOH8 campaign rocks at Twitter but I've got to ask, why does the campaign go after so many celebrities and public figures via Twitter?

The reason that the NOH8 Campaign uses Twitter so much, when it comes to reaching out to celebrities, is because twitter cuts out the middle man and it shows the community that we are still working hard everyday to bring together supporters on the issue. Twitter makes a direct connection with the celebrity we are trying to reach out to and it encourages our supporters to request their support as well.

5. Any memorable moments or stories from a photo shoot that you would like to share?

Every photo shoot and interaction that we have is memorable for us. We just love to hear the stories from the people that come out and hear what their reasoning is for wanting to support our cause/message. Meeting all the different people from all walks of life is something we hold close to us. We feel like Prop 8 was created to tear people apart and it makes us feel good to know that we are, in turn, bringing all these people together. The NOH8 Campaign means something different to each person that supports it, and hearing those stories are really inspirational for us.

6. I believe I saw somewhere via Twitter that the NOH8 campaign obtained 501(c)(3) status. How has this new status affected the campaign? Does this mean we'll be seeing more of NOH8?

Yes, the NOH8 Campaign has recently received it's official determination letter granting NOH8 the 501(c)3 status. With or without this status we would keep doing what we are doing, however, this will help us to get corporate sponsors and grants to help us grow. This also helps with anyone who doubts the intentions of the campaign. We are now a public entity and we plan to operate that way.

7. Bonus question: You two are more than just founders of NOH8 but you're also partners, correct? I know this because I saw the YouTube video of your engagement. :) How is married life?

Adam and I have been together for almost 3 years now and although we are engaged, we are not married. We are waiting until it is legal here in California to make it official. We are fighting for our rights!


This just in! It turns out that the NOH8 campaign is trying to get onto The Ellen Show. Let's help them out. Become a fan of their Facebook Page "The Ellen Show NOH8 Wish" and if you're on Twitter, join @EllenShowNOH8Wish. Hey, if we can get Betty White onto SNL, then we can certainly get the NOH8 campaign onto The Ellen Show.

Join the NOH8 Community on any of the following platforms:




Official Site




Join me in the MY NOH8 Campaign

You can also join the NOH8 campaign from your own home. Gather your friends, some duct tape, a white shirt, and poster paint - that's what I did. I'm hoping I did Adam and Jeff proud!

Like me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter. Join me on The Bilerico Project.

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Looks pretty cool indeed. But I have to mention how strong the contradictory imagery is, where everyone talks about coming out, speaking up, having your voice heard, and then they all place duct tape over their mouths. It feels like a contradictory message.

I get the meaning, having done day of silence stuff. But it was always a little confusing, which led to a lot of places having a day of silence followed by the night of noise.

Thanks for taking the time to comment Tobi. This is an excellent observation. They note on this on their site:

"Photos feature subjects with duct tape over their mouths, symbolizing their voices being silenced by Prop 8 and similar legislation around the world, with "NOH8" painted on one cheek in protest."

I think the duct tape will remain until Prop 8 is removed.

I agree with Tobi... the tape over the mouth symbolizes censorship, not liberation. It's a very confusing message.

Check out my response to Tobi above. Does this answer the question or just lead to even more questions about messaging? I pulled the info from their website.

Great interview, Leone, but I'm confused. They're a 501(c)3? Seriously? They charge people to get their picture taken with that wee bit of duct tape and marker on their face. I thought they were a for-profit business. It's supported them nicely since Prop 8 passed and I know they're making money off of the endeavor. That doesn't seem like a 501(c)3 to me...

Thanks Bil. On the NOH8 site they say:

"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."

I've been following the campaign for quite sometime. I originally reviewed the campaign in one of my first blog posts, which you can read here: http://krausnotes.com/2010/02/28/93/

Sadly, at this time I wasn't as detailed as I am now in regards to gathering data stats from social networking sites. But in this post, which went up in February, I did note that the NOH8 fan page had 88,000 fans but now has more than 213,000. They recently just broke over 100,00 followers on Twitter. According to the hashtag tracking site "What the Hashtag" the #NOH8 tag is served approximately 209 times per day. I think all-in-all, this is incredible reach for an equality awareness campaign.

The NOH8 campaign is doing an excellent job at growing and building awareness at a global level. Sure, the campaign uses duct tape and photos to build awareness but this type of strategy really resonates with a lot of people in the community and also encourages involvement from straight allies by providing a "cool" platform. I think NOH8's intention is clear. They are promoting and raising awareness of for Marriage Equality and anti-discrimination. NOH8 doesn't say, what the HRC which states:

"The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

HRC seeks to improve the lives of LGBT Americans by advocating for equal rights and benefits in the workplace, ensuring families are treated equally under the law and increasing public support among all Americans through innovative advocacy, education and outreach programs. HRC works to secure equal rights for LGBT individuals and families at the federal and state levels by lobbying elected officials, mobilizing grassroots supporters, educating Americans, investing strategically to elect fair-minded officials and partnering with other LGBT organizations."

I'm not educated enough in regards to how a 501(c)3 is to operate, where the monies go, and how the monies are to be used, so I won't pretend. But from a marketing and mission standpoint the NOH8 campaign is spot on with what it is trying to achieve, which is to promote awareness around marriage equality and anti-discrimination.

Perhaps one day, the HRC (or state level organizations like Fight Back New York) and the NOH8 campaign could team up for an event.

I am planning on participating in the NOH8 Campaign photoshoot in Chicago and would like to hear from others about their experience(s). What was the experience like? Any tips about being photographed? What about props? Thank you!

Hi MidModTom! Thanks for taking the time to comment on the post.

I haven't participated in a NOH8 shoot yet but I did do the MY NOH8 campaign. Because I'm a blogger, I posed with my laptop.

I encourage you to think about what interests you. I've seen friends pose with their instruments, the bible, the Torah, baseball bat etc. Think about your favorite hobby or activity. That may help drum up some ideas.