Oct. 11, 1987 — Half a million people marched in the streets of Washington, D.C., to support Gay and Lesbian Rights. At the time, it was the largest organized march in U.S. history, and it inspired a movement for equality that swept America.
In honor of that movement, Oct. 11 has been declared “National Coming Out Day,” a day of civil awareness that is recognized not only in the United States, but also in many countries around the world. Fayetteville will be observing the day in conjunction with the internationally acclaimed NOH8 Campaign. The event will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. at Hog Haus on Dickson.
Three years ago, the supreme court of California approved same-sex marriage. In a matter of months, Proposition 8 was passed to repeal the amendment. In protest of Proposition 8, the NOH8 campaign was born.
On their website, the campaign is described as follows: “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. Photos feature subjects with duct tape over their mouths, symbolizing their voices being silenced by Prop 8 and similar legislation around the world, with ‘NOH8’ painted on one cheek in protest.”
Having gained traction 14 years ago, the LGBT movement for equality is still struggling to take hold in mainstream society. Currently, seven states legally recognize same-sex marriage, but the possibility of a national amendment or a repeal in state legislation threatens to revoke these rights.
With visits from the NOH8 Campaign and the Human Rights Campaign within weeks of one other, Arkansas is rapidly becoming part of a national conversation about equality. For the first time, the state is participating in a widespread dialogue about the LGBT community and its relationship with faith and family — milestones in the progress for civil awareness.
However, there is still much progress to be made in the state.
“Arkansas is one of the more than 20 states where it’s perfectly legal to fire or refuse to hire someone due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s legal for a landlord to refuse to rent to a same-sex couple,” wrote LGBT activist Jon Cox in a previous editorial about Gay Arkansas.
For more information on the NOH8 Campaign and other National Coming Out Day activities in Fayetteville visit nwacenterforequality.org.