By Stuart Thembisile Lewis
Rhodes University students took part in a photoshoot protesting against hate and discrimination over the weekend of 12 to 13 May.
The local photoshoot was organised by OUTRhodes, a Rhodes University student society that campaigns against discretion against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) students. Over 54 people participated in the campaign by having their photographs taken with the “NOH8” slogan.
The idea for the photoshoot was based on the original NOH8 campaign. Adam Bouska, a celebrity photographer and co-founder of the movement, started it as a way to protest Proposition 8, a piece of legislature designed to ban homosexual marriages in California. He started by taking photos of ordinary citizens wearing white shirts, their mouths ducktaped over and the NOH8 logo painted on their cheek. Their website now includes photos of politicians, celebrities and military personnel.
According to their Facebook page, OUTRhodes works “towards making Rhodes University an open, safe and socially accepting environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) students”. OUTRhodes is not affiliated with NOH8, and adapted the original campaign concept by writing NO H8 on tape, which was then placed over a participant’s mouth. Co-organiser of the shoot and OUTRhodes president Mallory Perrett said that they chose this form of protest as it was “fun, different and visually orientated”.
Co-organiser and OUTRhodes activism manager Alia Jenkins added that they chose to tape the participant’s mouths up because it was a powerful image. “The message is coming out of your mouth, without you being able to say anything,” she said.
The photos will be displayed on Thursday 17 May, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). All participants in the photoshoot will be given copies of their photos to keep. The photos will also be posted on Facebook and publicly displayed on IDAHO in conjunction with several other gatherings OUTRhodes are planning on the day. Some of these events include a Kiss-in on the Rhodes University library steps at 1pm and a candlelit vigil at 7pm on the mosaic on Drostdy Lawns.
Most of the people photographed were there in their private capacity but members of the Neko Anime society arrived in full costume to show their support for IDAHO. See a gallery from the event below.