taped shut

How Mike Manning Made Us Revisit Adam Bouska’s Quotidian ‘No H8’ Campaign

Photographer Andrew Bouska’s “No H8” campaign has been an awesome (in both “cool” factor and in its impressive scope) tool to join celebrity with speaking out against discrimination. It’s also been oversaturated to the point of nausea — and we’ve stopped reading the press releases about the latest nonlebrities being shot with face paint and duct tape over their mouths. Well, until The Real World: DC‘s Mike Manning got in front of Bouska’s lense.

From Kim Zolciak and Fran Drescher to Wilson Cruz and Jonathan Waud, the photo stream is endless. We’re not knocking Bouska or his efforts here. The handsome, lithe photog brought together a movement (fighting Prop 8) with social media (spreading the photos virally through Facebook and Twitter) to create an insta-recognizable meme. It’s the sort of branding campaign HRC only wishes it came up with. But like anything else, too much of a good thing grows tiring, and new No H8ers are neither significant nor noteworthy. (Well, get James Dobson in front of Bouska’s camera, and we’ll change our tune.) After you’ve seen Andy Warhol silkscreen his 65th celebrity face, do you need to see another?

But in Manning, there’s something new: A newly visible bisexual guy, who’s confident in his Christian faith, has been added to the mix.

And we’re already certain he’s going to be a hit on the college speaking circuit, given these quotables: “I hate America’s obsessive need to categorize everything. You’re either black or white. You’re either gay or straight. You’re either this or that. Even in the gay community, there’s like this biphobia. Everybody’s like, ‘You have to be gay or straight. You can’t be bi. You can’t like both. It’s not who you are. Blah, blah, blah.’ Isn’t that committing the same crime they’re preaching against? They’re saying, “Don’t judge me, but I’m going to judge you within our own community. People should not give a shit. The question ‘What are you?’ shouldn’t even exist. If you’re attracted to somebody, flirt with them. See where it goes. I like guys and girls. I’ve dated girls, had sex with girls and enjoyed it very much. I find females very attractive. I find males very attractive. If I want to date a guy, I’ll date a guy. If I want to date a girl, I’ll date a girl.”

(Second photo: MetroWeekly)