Two Mondays ago, I was sitting in a car on a side street in Times Square. It was surreal.
Nine years ago, we launched the non-profit you know as 1in6. In those early days, we decided that one of the pillars of our work should/would be to create awareness, and through awareness, create dialogue, and through dialogue, de-stigmatize the issue. Never in my wildest hopes would I have imagined sitting in a rental car, at the intersection of 45th and Broadway, watching an electronic billboard on the Viacom building announcing “NO MORE that doesn’t happen to guys,” “NO MORE he just needs to get over it,” “NO MORE we don’t talk about that,” and so on…
Fact is, in what may be the busiest intersection in the world, WE WERE TALKING ABOUT IT! Every eight minutes, 24/7 for 7 days, everyone in Times Square had the chance to see and talk about what has been taboo for so long. Awareness was created in an unimaginable way, dialogue was happening, and maybe, just maybe, the de-stigmatization of the issue is happening. I do know that we are experiencing a new normal with regards to web traffic on the 1in6 website, on our support line, and in our support groups.
Fact is, what I witnessed two weeks ago was the hard work and herculean efforts of a number of committed professionals, many of whom worked on this campaign for years — yes, years — without fanfare. The names are too many to mention here, so I’ll be brief. Thanks to all of the Joyful Heart Foundation staff, the NO MORE campaign staff, Rachel and Melissa (you know who you are), Viacom, and to the entire 1in6 staff, including Andy, Colten, Gil, Josh, Martha, Meredith, Peter C., Peter P., Rick, and Steve2 (one of our web designers). I pulled a couple of the 1in6 staff’s comments that I’d like to share with you…
“If you want to reach survivors and loved ones alike, it’s amazing that the issue, generally difficult for people to approach, has taken center stage in the most public space in the United States. What an excellent way to break through the isolation, educate the public, and encourage further dialogue.”
“It is my hope that this united front will communicate our capacity and indeed the necessity to heal as a community without delineating lines of constructed sex and gender norms. We often perpetuate the paradigms that wound us, but this moment is an opportunity to move past those constructs and systemic biases. We are finally at the starting line. Let’s march together. United we heal.”
“The support on social media has been incredible, from people sharing our posts and asking how to get involved, to saying ‘thank you’ and even disclosing. There’s a real sense of community — of togetherness — which is what a movement like this needs to succeed.”
I’ve received numerous emails over the last week and a half but one jumped out at me.
“When I was in college and had yet to wrap my head around what had happened to me, I walked through Times Square hundreds of times. I can only imagine the impact it would have had on my life if I had looked up and seen something like this.”
So, to those I mentioned above who worked on the campaign, may I say thank you for all of the men who looked up and saw the billboards and said to themselves: “This is for me. I’m not alone.”
Founder/Executive Director, 1in6, Inc.