IUP will host its second annual Only Love photography project September 23, 2011.
The project features volunteers who are photographed as a show of support for the acceptance of all people. Photographs will be taken from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. outside of Wallwork Hall, at Pratt and Grant streets. The photos will then be displayed in a gallery on campus later this semester and will be featured on social networking sites. The opportunity to be photographed is open to all.
The Only Love project was established at IUP in October 2010 by R.C. Stabile, a student in the Student Affairs in Higher Education graduate program. He continues to direct the project, which was created in response to the national epidemic of bullying targeted at members of the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) community. Stabile, originally from East Islip, N.Y., works with the Office of Service Learning.
In 2010, 150 students volunteered to be photographed for the project by two volunteer photographers. This year, Stabile expects close to 300 students and 30 photography volunteers.
Stabile says that the mission of Only Love is simple: “There is so much hate spread through bullying, bashing and violence. What these photos represent is that we want happiness and love for everyone. We, as college students, the future of America, believe that everyone deserves a chance to love and to be loved. These photos are to raise awareness for anyone who is struggling with sexual identity and to let them know that it gets better and that there are people who care.”
The Only Love campaign was featured on CNN’s iReport and recognized by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s LGBTQIA Consortium, which includes members from all fourteen schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. It was recognized in 2010 by the Office of Housing and Residence Life as the Diversity Program of the Year.
In addition to being held at IUP, Only Love events have taken place at Point Park University and Bridgewater State University.
Stabile is also active with Safe Zone, a group that strives to improve the campus climate for GLBT individuals by providing visible signs on campus to indicate safe places for students to go for support. The program provides training to members of the IUP community, so that they are knowledgeable and sensitive to GLBT issues. Members pledge to challenge homophobic and heterosexist comments or behaviors in an educational and informative manner.
In addition, IUP offers Pride Alliance, a student organization with a goal of fostering a safe and supportive academic and social environment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and ally community of IUP. The Office of the President includes as an advisory group the GLBT Commission, which works to improve the climate for diversity at IUP as it relates to the welfare of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or questioning members of the university community.