There are many ways for athletes to be fearless. They can stand at the plate with the bases, in the bottom of the ninth. They can attempt a difficult dive. Rocket down an icy ski jump. Or they can come out of the closet as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
It took Jeff Sheng many years to overcome his fears. But in the years since, he has made it his life’s work to honor the fearlessness of over 200 young men and women.
Growing up in Southern California, Sheng was a competitive tennis player. Yet fear overtook him as a high school senior. He was starting to come out as gay. Unable to reconcile his sexuality with his sport, he quit playing.
The next year, at Harvard University, he met a closeted water polo player. Sheng could not go to games as his boyfriend (that fear again) and after a few months the relationship ended.
By senior year, Sheng’s ex was out — and on the cover of Genre magazine. “He was confident — an inspirational figure,” Sheng recalls. Having studied photography, he decided to focus his talents on gay college athletes. It seemed like a good way to honor their fearlessness.
In 2003, the universe of out sports figures was small. Friends of friends recommended subjects: a rugby player and squash player at Brown. A Harvard rower. A high school athlete, the first Sheng had ever heard of.
He photographed them after their workouts. They were sweaty and tired, but comfortable, and in their elements. The shots were powerful, and moving.
The first 20 or so subjects were almost all white, and lesbian, gay or bi. In 2005 Sheng began meeting athletes who called themselves ‘gender queer.” He knew he had to be more inclusive.
The next year, the Queer Alliance at the University of Florida — where he’d photographed a female softball player who filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination — invited him to show his photos. A mix-up prevented gallery space from being used. Sheng suggested a hallway nearby. Despite fears of vandalism, he mounted the exhibit. The final piece was text, explaining that every photo showed an LGBT athlete.
A high school debate meet was going on. The teenagers looked at the exhibit, then read the statement with shock. They seemed awed and impressed — not giggly or nasty.
“I realized I needed to put the photos in student centers and athletic buildings, where everyone could see them and have their assumptions challenged,” Sheng says. Around the country — at schools from Penn to USC — the reaction was always: “I didn’t know gay people looked like that!”
He kept working too. By 2010, he’d photographed 100 athletes.
Despite positive attention on college campuses, the project — called Fearless — did not receive mainstream attention. Sheng suspected it was because he was an Asian tennis player, not a white football star.
But now he was not fearful. He was angry. He redoubled his efforts.
“I could have stopped,” he says. “But I wanted to make this project so big, no one could ignore it.”
Now, no one can. Sheng has amassed 202 photos of LGBT college and high school athletes. They play every conceivable sport, and represent every type of self-identification. They look strong, proud, happy … and fearless.
They are also no longer solely photographs in a traveling exhibit. Three years ago, Sheng began work on a book. Fearless: Portraits of LGBT Student-Athletes, published earlier this month.
Sheng has taken the title literally. Sandwiched in between the stunning photos (with accompanying explanatory text) is the photographer’s own story. He’s taken 30 years of his life and shared it with readers. Sheng includes unpublished photos from his first relationship with the water polo player — and details about the two times he considered suicide.
A Kickstarter campaign raised $50,000 — half the amount needed to self-publish. (Mainstream publishers told Sheng there was no audience for his book.) The money covered a fantastic design team: a young gay male couple and their female assistant. They came up with the idea of eight different covers, and eight spines, each a different color. When placed together in stores, they’ll form a rainbow flag.
Fearless is a gorgeous, 300-page full color book. The photos and layout symbolize “the very beautiful, diverse community I’ve grown into,” Sheng says. They include a number of trans athletes. As part of Sheng’s own journey, he no longer uses headings like “Boys Tennis” or “Women’s Crew.” Now it’s “Casey, Soccer, University of Wisconsin.” The message is simple, proud, fierce — and very fearless.
Fearless will be introduced at the Nike LGBT Sports Summit in Portland next month. On July 21, it will be featured at the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks’ “Pride Game” at the Staples Center. To order a copy, go to www.fearlessproject.org.
Tanned, fit Aquarian Rick Phillips was born in Dallas but raised in neighboring Grand Prairie. He sprouts from a small but creative family: His mother sings opera, his brother is a drummer in a rock band, and his grandmother was also a gifted artist.
Labor of Love: Rick has been creating beautiful floral arrangements for more than 17 years. His first job interview in the business was to create a funeral arrangement. “I almost cut my thumb off,” says Rick, “I think they felt sorry for me. I got the job!”
Studying photography in college led to a natural progression into painting and finally into floral design. The instant gratification he gets from the process satisfies his art muse. Rick says he makes up his arrangements as he goes along. “I have a concept about color and shape when I start, but after that I free-wheel it.” He has been the exclusive florist for a high-profile jewelry store for eight years.
When he’s not handcrafting floral masterpieces, Rick enjoys cooking and shopping vintage and junk shops for awesome shirts and cool coats (and he can’t wait to for the weather to get cooler so he can wear them!) He loves all kinds of music from classical to techno/dance.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.
SuZanne Kimbrell made major tweaks to this latest edition of Twist Dallas. First and foremost, the event moves to Thursday nights, and while this show continues at Lakewood Bar & Grill, she expects that the July show will be in a different venue.
Also, the lineup here is tighter with four performers on the bill (Kimbrell included), but she’s pulled together another eclectic group of performers. Guitarist Natalie Velasquez, David Siuba from Santa Fe and the sultry soul and slick guitar rock of Robinson Hall led by queer vocalist Jackie Hall.
Visual artist Sylwester Zabielski will have his photography and film work on display.
DEETS: Lakewood Bar and Grill, 6340 Gaston Ave., on May 19 at 8 p.m. $10. TwistDallas.com.
PETTIT-KINCAID | On Oct. 31, Larry Pettit and Dr. Tim Kincaid celebrate their 20th anniversary of being a couple. They met in 1990 at the Rev. Kay Hunter’s “A Course in Miracles” study group in Dallas. They were legally married in 2003 in Toronto, Canada. Pettit and Kincaid have a home in Keller and are active in the Pathways Unitarian Universalist church in Southlake. Pettit is a 26-year employee of American Airlines and Kincaid retired from AA in 2008 to finish graduate school and start his own consulting and life coaching practice and to teach. (Image by Shawn Northcutt Photography)
Yesterday, I talked with local gay photographer Alex Remington about his show tonight that benefits Lambda Legal. He explained to me why he felt he needed to help the LGBT civil rights organization and gave me some insight into what it is about art that clicks for him. But he also sent me some images of his works that will be on display tonight. Proceeds from sales will go to Lambda Legal, but mostly, he would like people to come out and not only see his art, but learn more about the group. He’s even hoping the free wine will entice a few extra people.
After the jump, read what Remington has to say and see more of his work. To attend tonight’s show, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. The cocktail reception begins at 5 p.m. at Fashion Industry Gallery (F.I.G.), 1807 Ross Ave.
If you missed your chance to snag a NOH8photo shoot with Adam Bouska when he was here, this upcoming event should make up for it. Out photographer Debra Gloria, who we featured here, is hosting a photo shoot of her own to support the campaign. Her photos will be submitted to the campaign and given to you for all your Facebooking needs. We know that’s what you really want.
The photo shoot is free but $10 is the suggested cash donation to help offset any costs from the shoot and to donate to the campaign directly. Seriously, who can get a hip pic of themselves for that cheap? All you have to do is show up in your white t-shirt and have your hair and makeup all ready to go. She’ll provide the duct tape and tattoo.
The event will be at Jack’s Backyard, Dec. 5 from 1–4 p.m.
UPDATE: Debra Gloria contacted me and is excited about the event. “Yes, I will be working my butt off!” She wanted to mention that Tiffany Brown is “the brains behind all of this. She got this NOH8 project together, so I can’t take the credit for it all. She is a great girl!” So be sure to give both these ladies a hand when you make it out.pass-cracker.ruстатистика запросов в google
Debra Gloria’s inner stalker comes out of the closet at tonight’s “Eyes Wide Shut” show.
Although we mentioned tonight’s art show at Chi Studiobefore, another reason to check out “Eyes Wide Shut” (minus the free drinks) would be local photographer Debra Gloria. She’ll have two collections that should challenge you as well as give you a chill.
She’ll be showing works from her collection “Underneath My Clothes” where she has photographed three lesbian women who each battle their own demons. Gloria captures the scary essence of battling cancer, eating disorders and self-mutilation with a sensitivity that paints a strong picture of their pain. At the same time, the photos have an unusual yet stylized aesthetic that you won’t be able to move your eyes away from.
Her second collection, “Green Doesn’t Mean Go,” puts Gloria in the position of a stalker. “It’s really demented. I’ve always been very safe so this is different for me,” she said. This collection, she said, truly defines the word “exposure.” So if you see a Latina lady with a camera following you, just figure it’s for art’s sake.
Also on tonight’s bill will be Jeffrey Noble, Maria Olivas, Valerie Guignon and others. There will even be live belly dancing. How often do you get that outside of Al-Amir?siteпродвижение сайта по звонкам