Posing for My Family by Chase Hardin

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Why did I pose for the NOH8 Campaign? For my family. Armed only with this photo, a picture that simply implored the world to reject hate, I came out to my extended family with the following e-mail.

Hey guys!

I'm sending out this picture to family in hopes that it might help everyone better understand me and what the photo stands for.


For those of you who don't know, I'm one of countless gay teenagers who struggle to find acceptance in an intolerant world. While I myself have never been faced with individual discrimination or violence, I cannot remain silent while my friends and loved ones fight for basic human rights.

I come from a conservative family, and in many circumstances, this can mean anger, intolerance, and ultimately broken families. But today, I'm imploring you to understand what being gay means to me. Much of this world doesn't accept or approve of me. I hope and pray that you can learn to accept me for what I am, and what my creator made me.

This picture was purchased by me and my best friend, Kelsey, to help fund the fight against California's Proposition 8. When Proposition 8 passed, the gay community felt the bitter cold of being considered second-class citizens. It's likely that this doesn't mean anything to you, since it probably doesn't effect you. But it does effect me.

Proposition 8 in California and Proposition 102 in Arizona prevent me from marrying the person I love, and legalize the idea that I am a second-class citizen who does not deserve the same rights as everyone else. If you were apathetic or even supportive of Proposition 8, I ask you to reconsider for me - so long as these laws exist, my love is considered invalid and inferior. I'm not asking you to change your religious views or your lifestyle. I'm simply asking you to allow me the same legal rights you enjoy.

The next time you cast your ballot, I hope you keep me in mind. To be able to marry the one you love is something everyone can empathize with. I hope that you would not deny me the opportunity.

I love all of you.


I'd like to thank the NOH8 Campaign and everyone involved with it. It means more than you can possibly imagine. The reason this will work is because the strategy isn't fighting hate. It's spreading love. Love those who don't understand, and they'll soon love you in return. Don't give up, never give in, and keep spreading your love.


*****UPDATE: Several months after we originally shared Chase's story here on our website, he shared the following with us.*****


When I first submitted my article, you expressed interest in how my e-mail was received. That was a rather dull story in comparison to the response I received for simply taking the photo and having it posted on the site. My experience was dull, considering the messages and comments I received about it. I thought you guys should know.

Someone strange added me on Facebook. Like a good kid, I listened to the dire warnings from parents who warn of impending doom should I add a person I don’t know to my Friends. But this person persisted. Three times I rejected him, but four times he sent a friend request. Against better judgment, I clicked “Add” and sent him a message.

“Do I know you, broski?”

The following conversation terrified me. We didn’t know each other. He lived in a faraway state, and at first glance, we had nothing in common.  But he’d sought me out. And it didn’t take long to find out why.

After posing in a NOH8 photoshoot, I’d posted a few links on my profile, sent out my picture to family, and wrote a quick article for the website. I didn’t consider it much of a story, but I’d been asked to write my tale and so I wrote. Apparently my story meant more than I knew.

My friends sent messages and texts, congratulating me as if I’d won something. I was told repeatedly how brave I was, and that my actions should be emulated. I quickly grew confused.

The guy who added my on Facebook would say, “I guess I simply feel as though I want to become someone as strong as you were; to do what you did, and say what you said…”

And when I read that line, I knew I had to write to you again. These pictures are so much more than a protest against Proposition 8. They’re hope.

Even if Prop 8 is permanently struck down, the photos must continue. They are a message of acceptance and tolerance that reach across the globe to those who are too afraid to speak out.

The strongest person in the world is usually the one that goes unnoticed. When a wrong exists, there are those who stand up and refuse to accept it. They are the giants, the leaders, and the heroes.

But the current circumstances of the gay community are a unique wrong. It puts gay people in a strange position that, at the end of the day, makes them more of a hero than they know. Courage is a rare commodity, but the gay community possesses an abundance of it that is difficult for most to comprehend. What makes us so courageous? It is the simple decision to carry on in a world that doesn’t accept us.

There are great heroes among us – those who fight the wrongs and refuse to accept a choice that history will surely judge unkindly. But the true heroes, the strongest among us, are the ones who do not move along, but continue to struggle. A photograph is a meager offering of hope from me; the true source of hope is from those who have the courage to accept themselves, when the world around them is telling them not to.


Your story touched me..
I'm a bi-curious female born in England. So I don't know how things are for you
Over there. But I will say that you Give me hope. We all should be accepted for who and what we are. There needs to be more people like you on the earth. God bless you.

Shannon Morgan 08/18/2010 14:07


I'm honored and humbled that you draw hope from me. But know that the things I did were not incredible or extraordinary. The courage it takes for you to get through the day is worth more than the small measure of hope that my words offer. Your love is what will bring us acceptance. The world needs more people like YOU.

Chase Hardin 08/19/2010 03:50

I am living in Texas, and, i dont know if you have ever been here. but, texas is not very gay friendly. I was told in 7th grade by a teacher that i was the FIRST openly gay student she had ever met in 6 years. I asked to start a gay/st8 friend club......it grew and grew. My sophmore year i was cut of in the hall by a news crew and the mayor of our town, i got an award for trying to bring love to everyone. i gess. but its soooooo hard in texas. im striving for more people to open and listen. i want to set up a noh8 stand for one weekend at the mall near me. pass out fliers and tell people what its about. good idea??

Kirk Melancon 08/23/2010 22:29

Thank you for this, Chase. <3

Rascle 11/03/2010 13:58

"It's likely that this doesn't mean anything to you, since it probably doesn't effect you. But it does effect me"

Might want to review effect versus affect.

John Smith 11/09/2010 06:20

As another one of those countless gay teenagers I can honestly say you are an inspiration. People like you remind me that I'm not the only one. Honestly you're an amazing person.

Michael Greene 06/11/2011 16:06

Chase, it was a very brave thing to do, to put your trust in your extended family members. The one thing that is so very hard to do.
I live in Israel, in a city where the word gay is not a bad thing, one of the most accepting places I have ever been to, and yet I can't find it in myself to come out to my extended family, even though I know they all know members of the gay community and are very close to some. Maybe now, after reading your story, I will manage to do it.

Rotem Huminer 06/19/2013 06:33

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