This Valentine’s say #YesLove

The #YesLoveOKC team (l to r) Andrew Frederick, Treasurer/It Specialist, Albert Rios, Cofounder/ Executive Director, Michael Allen, President, Valerie Rollins, Vice President/photographer and Jaely Deleon, Secretary/Program Manager. Photo provided.

by Robin Dorner
Editor in Chief

After the Pulse Night Club shooting in 2016, Albert Rios saw attack’s and hate all over social media. The thought of all this hate had he and his friend, Jessica Montgomery, sick. They decided they needed to make a change.

“We thought the NOH8 photoshoot campaign was cool because you could photograph your friends and make a stance,” said Rios. “We thought, what if we could invite strangers to stand with other strangers, it would show love to someone you have never met; someone who may be completely different than you.”

Montgomery, a photographer, and Rios put together an event on social media and put it out into the universe.

“We were worried nobody was going to show up. Our first event was at IAO gallery. On the day of the event, we captured something truly magical. There were about 68 strangers organically embracing each other. We decided that the warmth and love was something we wanted to continue. So that birthed the foundation of our movement.”

Rios is the Co-Founder/ Executive Director of #YesLoveOKC, a social community action group that focuses on bridging the intersectionality gap in society. Through awareness, art, continued education, and social media, our goal is to create a community by encouraging necessary conversations in a respectful manner that promote growth and empowerment of all.

“We want to start a movement to spread love. The world is hurting, and we need more of it. We want to take a road trip and visit some of our #Lovers [community] we have met online,” Rios said.

The group has filed for their non-profit status and hope to have an office space soon. Their longer-term goals are to reach out to nearby communities and begin #YesLove chapters.

“From the beginning, the goal was to inspire other cities to have their own.”

They even hope to expand to a #YesLoveMOSCOW group. And they’d love to be on Ellen someday!  

“I think the biggest goal is to continue and expand our reach through working closely with other community groups and show how we are all in this together.

“We want to flood the world with love.”

#YesLoveOKC’s Board President, Michael Allen said he chose to commit his time and energy to the organization because of “the love I received from the beginning and the continued love. Getting to meet such beautiful human beings drives me every day.”

Allen got involved at with #YesLoveOKC at a “hug a stranger” photo event.

“That’s where I met Albert. I loved what they stood for and couldn't imagine not being a part of what they were doing.”

Allen not only serves as president. He also helps lead events and organize them along with the team.

“I work on #YesLoveOKC stuff about 20 hours a week outside of when we have events; then about 30 hours.” 

Rios said the group is young and still growing. They have organized several fundraising events to help with expenses. He said each member has a role, but as a board, all are involved in all aspects of our projects. 

September 4 will be their annual photoshoot event, but you’ll see them around before then; they’re everywhere. And you can find them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at @yesloveokc.

If you live in another city and want a #YesLove where you live, call (405) 753-0885, email or find them on social media.

Copyright The Gayly – February 14, 2019 @ 9:40 a.m. CST.