Why I Posed For NOH8 Again, by Mike

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015


"Over four years ago, I posed for the NOH8 Campaign for a number of reasons.

Obviously, one reason was my adamant support of marriage equality. I believe firmly that two people who love each other enough to commit their lives to each other should be able to do so. Not only that, but they should be recognized in the eyes of the law.

We are fortunate now that the United State Supreme Court now sees it that way. At the time, only five states and the District of Columbia legally allowed same-sex couples to marry. In the overwhelming majority of the country, the law saw same-sex couples as strangers.

Why is that important? Imagine not being able to visit your partner in the hospital or being able to make decisions on your loved one’s behalf. Imagine being shut out of your partner’s life by his or her family. Imagine seeing your loved one deported to a hostile country because your love isn’t recognized by the law.

My support for marriage equality wasn’t necessarily for my own benefit. It would benefit my father and his partner if they wanted to get married. It would benefit a number of my friends if they wanted to marry each other. Simply put, it would be the right thing to do. Even if I never get married, just knowing that I could if I wanted to is a powerful feeling.

Over the years, I’ve made friends with several people who are ardent supporters of marriage equality, many of whom are straight. Four years ago, I adopted a ninja pose to honor Scott Herman from the cast of The Real World: Brooklyn. I chose the pose because he called me Ninja Mike and to show my appreciation for his support of his gay friends.


Those reasons still came to mind when I went to Washington, D.C. for this year’s NOH8 photo shoot. Some things changed dramatically in the four years between NOH8 photo shoots. One, support for marriage equality went from being a strong and increasingly loud minority to come from a majority of Americans. Two, instead of five states and the District of Columbia legalizing marriage equality, 37 states allowed two people to marry each other. The Supreme Court’s declaration that struck down portions of the 1993 Defense of Marriage Act set the stage for a tidal wave of court rulings that struck down same-sex marriage bans in a large number of states. The support of allies was still an important reason for me to take another photo, as several friends quietly or otherwise supported me in the fight.

However, the main reason for another photo was a reminder that our work is still not done. At the time, the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges was still on the horizon. LGBT people in 29 states can still be fired, demoted, and discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. Millions of LGBT people risk their lives simply living them in countries that are openly hostile to homosexuality.

Even if blatant discrimination is gone, implicit discrimination causes its own set of problems. People who keep their distance or react with hostility – subtle or not – are a reminder that the fight for full equality must continue until we can really be free to live up to our full potential.

In short, it's a reminder that we must keep fighting for our country to live up to its ideals of allowing us all to enjoy our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."


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