Celebrate love at the Mount

Smile and tell me what love is.

That’s what Mount Saint Vincent students were doing last week during the kickoff of their #LoveIsLove campaign.

“We figure that’s the perfect way to celebrate everyone’s forms of love, no matter what it means to them,” said Ryan Nearing, a Mount student and campaign love ambassador.

The premise of the #LoveisLove campaign is simple. First, you finish the sentence “Love is….” Then you get your picture taken. The photos and corresponding quotes are posted on social media for the world to see.

“I kind of wanted to give a voice to everybody, no matter who it was, to kind of express their support for love and love equality. I felt there was a disconnect,” said Zach Gallant, #LoveIsLove co-founder.

“There’s a lot of closeted supporters, a lot of people who do believe in love for all, but might not necessarily come out and say it. So this campaign was intended to be a medium for them to express it in an unique way.”

The campaign is mobile, consisting of a backdrop and a camera, allowing it to go to events instead of being centred in one room. The campaign this year will also forego the backdrop for some shoots and do on-the-spot pictures in classrooms or other similar settings.

Each year the campaign consists of several launches instead of a single event.

It was fitting that for 2015, the first launch worked out to take place before Valentine’s Day, since the celebration of love is the campaign’s purpose.

The #LoveIsLove campaign was created in 2013 by Gallant, then a Mount public relations student. Originally expecting to get only 20 participants, he was surprised by how much support he received.

“We had 40 in our first year, and then we had 600 last year, so who knows how many we are going to get this year,” said Gallant.

“I never thought it would be this size… (it’s) pretty outstanding so far.”

#LoveIsLove didn’t just catch on at the Mount. It has also spread to other universities such as St. Francis Xavier and Saint Mary’s. A high school in Salmon Arm, B.C., and 13 other schools across Canada have also participated.

The goal for this year’s campaign is to get it to spread further nationally, both in schools and throughout organizations. They were even trying to get celebrities to endorse it.

Musician Craig Cardiff, a folk singer from Ontario, features #LoveIsLove quotes in his Love is Louder music video, uploaded to YouTube last year, in collaboration with the campaign.

A tweet-athon to get talk show host Ellen DeGeneres to endorse the campaign is also in the works.

Not everything about the campaign was all hearts and roses though; the previous slogan, “A campaign for equality,” had left the wrong impression.

“It has been taken in a sense where we might be stepping on the toes of actual campaigns that are politically charged to love equality; fighting for the rights of love equality …. It’s not a political campaign, it’s just a celebration,” said Justin Corcoran, the Mount student union’s VP for student advocacy.

“Love equality can be taken in many ways. We wanted #LoveIsLove to be a celebration just for all. It’s love. It’s just love each other, love yourself. It’s just that.”

The slogan for the 2015 run, “A celebration of love,” better fits what organizers are aiming for.

“It was basically just advocating for everybody’s right to be loved, and love whoever they choose,” said Nearing.“To give every student the opportunity to express what love meant to them, and celebrate what love meant to them.”