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slides Jeff Sheng: Don't Ask, Don't Tell  
 slide 1 of 9  
Alana. Great Lakes, Illinois.  2010.

Alana. Great Lakes, Illinois. 2010.

Jeff Sheng is a Los Angeles-based artist who has devoted 2009 and 2010 to photographing gay, lesbian, and bisexual American military servicemembers who serve under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy that requires them to keep their sexuality secret in order to avoid discharge.

Sheng received considerable attention earlier in the decade for his photographs of closeted glbtq high school athletes in a series of photographs entitled Fearless that toured more than thirty U.S. college campuses. Sheng writes that "It was during this time that I started receiving anonymous e-mails from closeted service members in our military, many of whom were stationed overseas and part of the United States war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these service men and women had incidentally been closeted athletes in high school and college, and hence found a strong resonance and inspiration from Fearless. Some of these e-mails also asked if I had ever considered working on a photography project that dealt with 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and if not, strongly urged me to consider doing so." The result was two series of photographs and an ongoing project on DADT.

  Jeff Sheng
  Jeff Sheng
Sheng goes on to say that "Ultimately for me, these photographs speak upon the layers of silences that have permeated the United States' involvement in two major wars this past decade--the silences not just with sexuality, but towards the countless acts of bravery and unsung heroism by these unyielding men and women, who continue to fight and serve despite the circumstances, and whose heartbreaking invisibility in these so-called silent wars will hopefully one day be accounted for."

In the nine photographs featured here, as in the rest of the photographs in the DADT series, Sheng has deliberately obscured the identities of his subjects in order to protect them from prosecution under DADT.

Sheng's work will be on display at the Kaycee Olsen Gallery in Los Angeles from September 18 through October 23, 2010. For further information about Sheng, his work, and books Sheng has published, see the links below.


© Jeff Sheng and glbtq, Inc.

More on Jeff Sheng
Jeff Sheng's website includes galleries of his work, more information about the artist--including information about upcoming projects--and contact information. sells Sheng's books Don't Ask, Don't Tell Volume 1 and Don't Ask, Don't Tell Volume II.
Sheng is represented by the Kaycee Olsen Gallery in Los Angeles.

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