Equality hits Utah County


Want to join the cause? Visit http://www.IAmEqualProject.org/ Photos by Matt Spencer

The I AM EQUAL Project, in conjunction with the school’s Spectrum Club, made a stop in Orem on Sept. 9, ready to provide people with a way of advocating their message.

The project, which originated in Salt Lake City, was created by California native Jason Beckett and international photographer Matt Spencer.

The idea behind the project is to turn apathy into action. Spencer and Beckett, along with a team of volunteers, are traveling the country taking pictures of people with a black rub-on tattoo on their hand that says, “I Am =.” Each photo is a close- up of the person’s face and their hand being presented in a creative way.

“It’s a mechanism to take action,” Beckett stated while explaining the concept. “People share the photo and others become curious as to what it means.”

The photo is emailed to each person and they are encouraged to display it on social networks, share it through e-mail, print it and put it in their homes, or however they please. It works as a conversation starter for a cause in a non-aggressive type of format.

The fascinating aspect to the I AM EQUAL project is that it doesn’t promote a single cause, but any cause that any individual supports. Depending on the person in the photo, it could mean gay rights, environmental rights, women’s rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or numerous other causes that need support.

“A simple picture can be the reason to start talking,” Beckett explained.

The project started in Salt Lake City as a controlled environment test run.

They’ve already taken over 600 photos. Starting in January, I AM EQUAL will travel to Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Boise and other prominent cities. The goal is to collect 125,000 pictures. Once that goal has been accomplished, the Project will come back to Salt Lake City and create a public installation of the largest photo mosaic in the world. It will be 8,000 square feet with each picture on a 2-inch square tile.

Some local and national celebrities have already participated in the Project including comedian, best-selling author and television host Chelsea Handler, current mayor of Salt Lake City Ralph Becker, former mayor of Salt Lake City Rocky Anderson and web personality Deena Manzanares.

At the event in Orem, people were excited to help and get their cause out. When asked about what causes they were supporting, the answers ranged from human rights in Africa to religious tolerance here in America.

A group of young men came all the way down from Salt Lake City to be a part of the Project. When asked what cause they were promoting, they all unanimously said gay rights.

“Yeah, Prop. 8 needs to go away.”

As they were leaving, one of them turned to another and said, “We just made a difference. That’s freaking awesome!”

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