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Queer Visual Culture
Photographer Jeff Sheng's "Fearless"
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 08/04/12
Last updated on: 08/04/12
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Los Angeles-based photographer Jeff Sheng came to prominence for his photographs of gay, lesbian, and bisexual American military servicemembers who served under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which were exhibited during the DADT debate and collected into a stunning book. He is now bringing to fruition a project he began in 2003 of photographing high school and college athletes who are openly glbtq. He has made a remarkable video (embedded below) to accompany an exhibit of the photographs of "Fearless" at Pride House 2012 at the London Olympics.

Sheng's project of photographing out athletes is highly personal for him. In high school he was a closeted tennis player who thought it would be impossible for him to be both out and a collegiate athlete. Out of fear, he failed to pursue his athletic dreams. Hence, he entitled the project "Fearless" as a reminder "to myself and to others of the true meaning behind the bravery of what these young people are able to do: be themselves in the face of homophobia in competitive sports--something rarely ever seen at the professional level."

He notes that when he began the project in 2003, it was very difficult to find willing athletes for the project, but over the years it became easier.

He hopes to commemorate his tenth year working on the project by publishing a large photography book that details the lives and journey "Fearless" has entailed, including all of the photo shoots from the series. His hope, he says, "is that this book can serve as further inspiration to countless young people who happen to be LGBTQ and suffer from bullying or harassment and live in fear about being who they are."

To learn more about the project and to support it, visit this website.

To learn more about Jeff Sheng and his photography, visit his website.

Enjoy the video slide-show of "Fearless," narrated by Jeff Sheng

A slideshow of some of the photographs of Sheng's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" project may be found here.

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