This past Sunday, I attended the NoH8 photo shoot at the Hollywood United Methodist Church. A couple of things are memorable. One, the church has a giant red ribbon on its steeple symbolizing the need for HIV/Aids awareness. How many churches you know are that progressive? Secondly, right on the website, you can see the church’s motto:
“We believe that God is LOVE, that all people are welcome and equal in the family of God, and that God is for us, not against us. We believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God, whose example of radical love and justice we seek to follow.”
How amazing is that? I don’t know much about the Methodist tradition, but those ideals are ideals I can get behind. Lastly, and remember this is Hollywood, and the church is right on the corner of Franklin and Hollywood – one of the most crazy busy intersections ever created by man – the church has its own free parking. WOW!!!
I was the last person to arrive for the shoot, right at 5p.m. The NoH8 campaign “is a photographic silent protest created by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley in direct response to the passage of Proposition 8.” I had my white t-shirt on and my silver cross ready for my close up. I made my $40 donation to help bring awareness to marriage equality and should be getting my photograph within a month. You can go to www.noh8campaign.com for more information.
Aside from those observations, the most impactful moment happened after I had left the shoot. I decided not to remove the sticker on my cheek on and headed towards East LA to pick up a pizza at Pizza Hut. I walked in, and heard the faint music of Los Tigres del Norte playing from the kitchen. A homie helped me w/ my food, he was nice, and this chubby kid, who was on his cell phone and must have been around 16, looked at me with puzzled eyes. He put the phone down, and said “excuse me ma’am.. what is No H8?” I looked at him, smiled and said “its a campaign to shine light on discrimination against gay people who want to get married.” and he said “oh wow” and I asked him, “did you hear about prop8?” and he said “whats that?” and I said “its a recent law that banns marriage equality… so the NoH8 means, that you don’t support that law because everyone should have a right to get married, so i have the sticker on to show my support” and the expression on his face said it all. I thought he was gonna cry. He looked at me with a very melancholy smile and said, “thank you for doing that… (takes a breath) its important to stand up for what you believe in right?” and the homie was listening too and he was smiling and i smiled back at the kid, we shared a moment of understanding and I said “yeah… it is” <smile> “see ya later.” I grabbed my pizza and opened the door, just in time for him to whisper “bye.” I saw the reflection through the window and saw a tiny smile.
As I walked to my car, a wave of emotion shuttered through my body and I nearly wept. I was so consumed with what had just happened in this little tiny pizza joint in East LA. I thought about the importance of impact in our day to day actions. This kid, just another brown boy from East LA, perhaps questioning his own sexuality, not able to express what he feels. Maybe he comes from immigrant parents who wouldn’t understand Prop 8., or maybe his dad is super macho and would disown him if he were to “come out.” I don’t know the circumstances of his upbringing, but what I do know, is that for the few moments we shared, I made an impression. He knows he is not alone, that there are others, that care and understand that social justice and equality for all are important. Now he knows about the No on H8 campaign, and I hope, one day, he joins our movement of equality for all.
I’m glad I didn’t take off the sticker.