Monday, November 12, 2007

The Fearless Campus Tour – Photo Exhibit of LGBT Athletes

Jeff Sheng is a lecturer at UC Santa Barbara who teaches photography. He has a photo project under way focused on LGBT high school and college athletes. He is currently speaking at schools around the US and showing his photo exhibit. He calls this traveling exhibit The Fearless Campus Tour. He eventually hopes to make the photo exhibit into a book. You can check out his web page for more information about his LGBT athlete photo exhibit and the campus tour –

I really like Jeff’s project because it is such a great way to call attention to the presence of LGBT athletes in high school and college sports. Looking at his photos helps viewers to understand that LGBT young people are playing all sports from football to field hockey, from wrestling to tennis, from volleyball to water polo. The young athletes featured in his exhibit represent the future of high school and collegiate sport – a place where all young people can openly and confidently identify themselves as LGBT to their coaches and teammates without fear of harassment or discrimination. They also represent a bridge to that future. The young people featured in this photo exhibit show other more fearful and closeted LGBT athletes that change is happening in schools across the USA.

Over my years of teaching about heterosexism and homophobia in schools and in athletics, it’s always been apparent to me that seeing LGBT people and listening to them talk about their experiences is a powerful catalyst for changes in how heterosexual people feel about sharing a classroom, workplace, team or neighborhood with LGBT people. My time on an LGBT speakers’ bureau from 1982-1995 was one of the more powerful education experiences I’ve had. People’s stereotypes are challenged, their fears are addressed and their misinformation corrected with face to face interactions. Not only that, it felt great to be a part of that change.

Jeff’s photo exhibit can be a similarly effective way to call attention to homophobia in sport and serve as a vehicle for young LGBT athletes to make their presence known in a way that helps to change the world of athletics for the better. Check it out.

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