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They serve their country in the closet
November 15, 2010 10:45 AM   Subscribe

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is an exhibit of photographs by Jeff Sheng that is currently on tour in the US. A sharp contrast to his previous work: Fearless, which highlighted young Canadian and US athletes who openly identify as gay, lesbian or transgendered, this new exhibition shows gay American servicemen who cannot, so they have been photographed in uniform with their faces hidden or outside the photo's frame to protect their anonymity. Flash Galleries: DADT 1, DADT 2.

Mr. Sheng also contributes to Bilerico.

Interview with him in Radar Magazine / Video of him discussing the work at The New York Times.

Review of his recent exhibition in Los Angeles, from the LA Times.
posted by zarq (17 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
One of the photos is apparently of Lt. Dan Choi. (Previously and Previously.) However, I was unable to find that specific shot.
posted by zarq at 10:45 AM on November 15, 2010


The CNN article made reference to these photos being exhibited in Washington. Does anybody know where the exhibition was, or if it's still open?
posted by schmod at 11:04 AM on November 15, 2010


It just ended, I'm sorry to say. It was a free exhibit at the HRC on Rhode Island Avenue NW from November 8-10 for FotoWeek DC 2010.
posted by zarq at 11:09 AM on November 15, 2010


I forgot a link:

Video: Telling the stories of DADT
posted by zarq at 11:13 AM on November 15, 2010


As it started I was going to like... quip about the branches of the men vs. the women, but then I got to Tristan and Zeke.

God. :/

I hope those two are able to keep it a secret.

Are the names fictional names, I hope? Because if some of these photos had been of me, I'm pretty sure people in my unit could have spotted me without a first name.
posted by kavasa at 11:19 AM on November 15, 2010


GODSDAMMIT I'm trying to look at the pictures one at a time, at my own pace, but it keeps advancing like some stupid slide show. How do I make it stop?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:29 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


GODSDAMMIT I'm trying to look at the pictures one at a time, at my own pace, but it keeps advancing like some stupid slide show. How do I make it stop?

Not that I'm aware of. But 15 of the photos are available on Flickr.
posted by zarq at 11:37 AM on November 15, 2010


kavasa: Are the names fictional names, I hope? Because if some of these photos had been of me, I'm pretty sure people in my unit could have spotted me without a first name.

Report: Impact Of 'Don't Ask' Will Be Minimal (NPR, Nov. 11, 2010)
The Pentagon has been surveying troops to judge how the force might manage if it allows gays to serve openly in the military. A report today suggests that most service members do NOT have real problems serving alongside homosexuals.
...
A report in the Washington Post today says the study found the vast majority of the force thinks that the effect of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell would be positive, mixed or nonexistent.
I think this is the WaPo report, which includes another interesting quote:
"The Pentagon has reportedly found what more than twenty other studies already found: that openly gay service does not harm military readiness," said Dr. Nathaniel Frank, author of 'Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America,' and a former researcher at the Palm Center [at the University of California Santa Barbara].
I also wonder how much of a secret it is from those who serve with them. I am sure some people are completely "hidden," but I can imagine that is not the case everywhere.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:46 AM on November 15, 2010


as someone discharged for being gay before dadt, i fear an overly rapid overturn only because the decision to allow gays to serve openly will not by itself correct the many ways discrimination can be exercised against gays once they are in (or open), and i think there is danger awaiting there. it's nice to think it can just be fixed with a blanket order, but the history of racial and sex integration in the military shows otherwise.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 12:07 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


And at that point, fallacy of the beard, then gay and lesbian people will be able to, like they do in every other part of their life, make the decision if where they are at is safe for them to come out or not.

Repealing DADT won't change that; it will just make the official default position not "come out and get out."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:31 PM on November 15, 2010


I realize on a more careful reading that we are essentially saying the same thing.

But I do think that a change in policy will make some things much, much safer and that nobody is ignorant enough to think that changing the policy will make the military some happy place where you can be wonderfully openly gay with no issues -- since that place exists nowhere else in the United States.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:34 PM on November 15, 2010


In related news:
GetEQUAL and Gay Vets Hold Sunrise Vigil at Grave of Discharged Soldier as Start to Week of Actions on 'DADT'.

GetEQUAL, Discharged Gay Vets Pay Visit to Senator Harry Reid, Demand Answers on 'DADT'.

13 Veterans and DADT Repeal Advocates Chain Themselves to White House Fence, Call for Senate Action.

Lieberman: Pentagon Should Release 'DADT' Study Immediately.

John McCain Wants Another 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Study, Says This One Took the Wrong Approach [video].
And this is oh, so 'rich'"
11/11/2011: Cindy McCain Speaks Out Against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' as Part of NoH8 Campaign's Anti-Bullying PSA.
And...just one day later:
Cindy McCain Repeals Her View ON DADT.
Her husband didn't influence her to do a 180 degree change. No. No way.
"'Did she lie today or lie yesterday? Either way, she's a liar, and she should be removed from the NOH8 video because, as of right now, Cindy McCain is a hater. Not to mention, great message she just sent to gay youth. If someone pressures you, cave and support hate.'*
Sounds like she's backpedaling simply because, as Dan Choi pointed out to Keith Olbermann last night, her 'very significant' public objection to DADT 'underscores the values behind the repeal effort,' something her husband opposes."*
posted by ericb at 2:07 PM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


The time for change is indeed now!
• 73 percent of military personnel are comfortable with lesbians and gays (Zogby International, 2006).

• Majorities of weekly churchgoers (60 percent), conservatives (58 percent), and Republicans (58 percent) now favor repeal of DADT (Gallup, 2009).

• 75 percent of Americans support gays serving openly - up from just 44 percent in 1993 (ABC News/Washington Post, 2008).

• In 1993, RAND Corp. concluded that openly gay people in the U.S. military do not negatively impact unit cohesion, morale, good order or military readiness. An update of this study should be completed in the next 90 days.

• Several other military-commissioned and GAO studies have concluded that open service does not undermine military readiness, troop morale or national security.

• Today, there are at least 66,000 gay Americans serving on active duty and one million gay veterans in the United States, according to the Urban Institute.*
Additional research and polls.

And what do military leaders think?

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
"It is my personal and professional belief that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do. No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens."
Defense Secretary Robert Gates:
"I fully support the President's decision [regarding the repeal of DADT]. The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it. We have received our orders from the commander in chief and we are moving out accordingly."
Admirals, Generals: Let Gays Serve Openly -- "More than 100 call for repeal of military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy."
posted by ericb at 2:17 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sheng should follow this series up with portraits of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual victims of U.S. military aggression.
posted by layceepee at 3:01 PM on November 15, 2010


But I do think that a change in policy will make some things much, much safer and that nobody is ignorant enough to think that changing the policy will make the military some happy place where you can be wonderfully openly gay with no issues -- since that place exists nowhere else in the United States.

i wouldn't expect or want to wait for perfection, either. the surveys show that a majority of the military have little issue with it, but considering how generational gay acceptance is generally, what percentage of that is actually running things? i'd like to see at least some process in place. i could be wrong on it, but if dadt were overturned right now, i'm guessing there is not even a system of reporting or recourse on issues of anti-gay discrimination--and it wouldn't spring up overnight. given the variety of locations and types of command (e.g. in which something like abu ghraib abuse was able to happen), there are going to be some hazy or dead zones in terms of compliance and reporting.

but also, i anticipate harsher, uss-iowa-type scenarios, in which something tragic happens and gays as an issue, or gays in particular, are scapegoated--something people like mccain and palin would be eagerly anticipating, and something their scarier supporters might try to bring about. the lack of a comprehensive policy is going to offer some cover for that kind of thing.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 3:05 PM on November 15, 2010


(actually, i think much of the claim of concern for 'military readiness' around the change in policy are less an issue of how the military will be affected and more a concern that they can't yet assure gays will be treated fairly in any of the many situations where, obviously or discreetly, their sexuality can be used against them.)
posted by fallacy of the beard at 3:15 PM on November 15, 2010


I'm not going to go with the "Cindy McCain is a hater" sentiment and give her some points for temporarily trying, if only because I get the very creepy feeling that the McCain household is a frightening place.
posted by Morrigan at 7:29 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


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