Sparking a Dialogue
Issues surrounding diversity and inclusion have been at the forefront of conversations this year —at Ohio University, in the region, and across the state and nation.
In his journeys through Athens County, Rich-Joseph Facun, a photographer with University Communications and Marketing, captured images that show how citizens are sparking a dialogue about these issues through signs, flags, or other visual displays at their places of residence.
"Take a leisurely drive down many streets, in town or in surrounding rural areas, and you are certain to be greeted with saturated stripes of an LGBTQ flag or the bold script of Black Lives Matter signs. Some residents have gone one step further, creating one of a kind handmade signage—works of art," Facun said. "Their efforts and support are hard to miss, even if one tried."
In this photo series, the individuals photographed—which include Ohio University students and employees, as well as community members—share their sentiments about these subjects.
"All lives can't matter until Black Lives Matter. We want our neighbors to know we stand with them."
Kathleen & Colin Gabler with their dog BB
"Our house is all about love, vulnerability, and honesty. Pride in our queerness is one of the ways we can best exemplify this to ourselves and one another."
"It's crucial to show the world that there are more of us than them when it comes to being anti-racist."
Brandon Thompson and Parker, 3
"It's important to preach justice around those who don't."
"I have the flag because I'm gay/queer and proud. And my family supports me!"
Rio Dennis (they/them) and Debra Spangler
"We show our sign to let others know that African Americans are appreciated and that we are not afraid to stand up for ourselves and others."
Dawn Handley and daughters Luna, 5 and Sydney, 10
"We wanted a flag that shows intersectional support across the spectrum of the LGBTA+ community."
Sara Viernes and Ashley Kellar with their dog Cooper
"I had just been a part of the peaceful George Floyd protest. So many gathered together in Athens for one cause, young, old, black, white, etc. I kneeled next to a few officers kneeling as well. I loved the unity. I feel like the signs popping up all over Athens continued that and I wanted to be part of this movement."
"I grew up as a kid in the 70's. 'Black is beautiful' is what I grew up with. I wanted to make something beautiful. I didn't want to have the minimum. I wanted my sign to be sparkling and welcoming. When people make something by hand, it is a translation of love."
"We are here and we are queer. Stay fab and smile daily."
Jerry Martin and Robert Halland