By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — They came to make a statement, support a cause and show acceptance of others.
Individuals, families and friends came to Pinkerton Academy last week to participate in the nationally acclaimed NOH8 silent protest photo campaign, created by celebrity photographers Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley.
NOH8 travels the nation and world to collect photographs showing people wearing all white with their mouths taped shut, all to symbolize a silent protest to issues of inequality in marriage, gender and other human circumstances.
Pinkerton’s GSA, Gay/Straight Alliance, club hosted the event.
NOH8 began four years ago and has since photographed almost 30,000 faces, including celebrities and everyday people from all walks of life. It started as a way to protest California’s Proposition 8, amending the state Constitution banning same-sex marriage.
Now it stands for equality in all areas of life including marriage and gender and spreads the message through social media, education and visual protest as seen in the photographs.
People of all ages came for all reasons.
Kiana Chaisson, 18, is a Pinkerton Academy senior and president of the school’s GSA club. She and her mother, Coreen, got temporary “NOH8” tattoos placed on their cheeks and prepared for a joint photo shoot.
“I love it,” she said of NOH8’s message. “It makes everything better, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”
Kiana’s mother said her daughter is strong, sweet, and very loyal to what she believes in. She is also a believer in being equal on all levels and accepting everyone.
“I really believe in it,” she said. “I wish I had something like this when I was young.”
She moved many times as a young girl to about 13 different schools; she said it was hard to fit in and make friends.
Complete families came to Pinkerton for that special photo to voice acceptance and love.
“We back our family 100 percent,” Jim Huckins said. “Love is love, all is good.”
Pinkerton junior Mary Decker is vice president of the school’s GSA club. The club mission is to offer a fun, non-judgmental and confidential place for all students to gather and to promote a high standard of tolerance and awareness among friends.
“We’re all friends,” she said. “We get together to talk about issues.”
Tyler Segreti graduated from Pinkerton in 2012 and was back to volunteer with the NOH8 project after hearing about the local appearance on Facebook.
“This is something I always wanted to do, I jumped right on it,” he said.