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Compelling New Photobook Details the Isolation Facing Gay Service Members under Don't Ask, Don't Tell

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In 2008, GLAAD began to follow the work of Los Angeles-based photographer Jeff Sheng.

Sheng’s first photo series “Fearless,” which profiled openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes, quickly attracted both national and international attention. The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, OUT Magazine and The Advocate among others celebrated Jeff’s spellbinding portraits of LGBT athletes across the nation.

Now, Sheng lends his photographic eye to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the 1993 law that bans openly gay and lesbian service members in the United States armed forces.

Sheng’s new photobook, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Volume I,” is the first-ever portrait series that features the images and stories of gay and lesbian service members currently serving under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.

(To read The Los Angeles Times’ feature article on Jeff Sheng’s new work, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Volume I, click here)

Sheng uses lighting and shadow effects to mask part or all of his subjects’ faces in a dramatic collection of portraits that capture the isolation that burdens gay and lesbian service members in the United States military.

“Ultimately for me, these photographs underscore the silence permeating the unsung heroism of gay and lesbian military personal,” said Sheng. “The photos are about the men and women who continue to fight and serve despite the heartbreaking invisibility they suffer.”

(More photos are available below)

Sheng complements the portraits with emails written by closeted military personnel who languish in the grips of secrecy. “I didn’t understand it at all,” a soldier writes. “After all I had been through, all of it could be set on the back burner and in an instant I could go from war hero to the gay soldier that was discharged. How could this be right?”

GLAAD is proud to be working alongside Jeff to promote this compelling new photo series that shows the concrete harms inflicted on gay and lesbian United States military personnel who are forced to lie about who they are.  GLAAD continues to pitch the project to mainstream media outlets across the country.

For more information on Jeff Sheng’s new photobook, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Volume I,” visit www.jeffsheng.com