University Community

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.


The Gabler family standing on their front porch with their yard sign

"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

Marco Omta posing with his residence's pride flag for a portrait

 "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."

Marco Omta

Athens resident Brandon Thompson poses with his daughter in front of their yard sign

 "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

A student poses outside of her off-campus residence and its social justice banner

 "It's important to preach justice around those who don't."

Trinity Bryant

Rio Dennis and Debra Spangler on the front porch of their home displaying the pride flag

"I have the flag because I'm gay/queer and proud. And my family supports me!"

Rio Dennis (they/them) and Debra Spangler

The Handley family posing in their front yard next to their yard sign

"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

Students with their dog posing on their front porch with their pride flag

"We wanted a flag that shows intersectional support across the spectrum of the LGBTA+ community."

Sara Viernes and Ashley Kellar with their dog Cooper

Jennifer Moore photographed outside her home, displaying a yard sign in the window

"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."

Jennifer Moore

Patty Mitchell posing on her front porch with a giant, handmade social justice banner

"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."

Patty Mitchell

Jerry Martin and Rober Halland pose outside their residence which sports a pride flag

"We are here and we are queer. Stay fab and smile daily."

Jerry Martin and Robert Halland


October 21, 2020
Photos by Rich-Joseph Facun