Photographer Jeff Sheng looking for out high school and collegiate athletes for his book and project

By Cyd Zeigler jr.

For several years now, a young photographer named Jeff Sheng has been crossing the nation looking for out gay and lesbian high school and collegiate athletes. His goal is to photograph 100 athletes before putting his project into book for at some point in 2009.

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The project is called the Fearless Campus Tour. It’s a great name for it, because the young athletes who come out do have to be fearless at some level when there are so few role models of gay men and lesbians at high-level sports who came out while still playing.A big part of the project is displaying his photography of out athletes at various colleges; so far, it's graced the walls of over 25 campuses from New England to Southern California.
While some people may hear about the photo project and think, “great, hot athletes,” that simply couldn’t be further from what he’s doing. These photos capture the essence of athletes who have excelled in season after season of high school and collegiate sports. Some of them have been featured on Outsports before, like Harvard water polo player Mike Crosby, Utah skier Ryan Quinn and Rutgers swimmer Sean Smith. Sheng has also found many more athletes, like Jamal of Dartmouth track & field (top, at left) who haven’t graced the pages of this Web site – yet. We'll be profiling some of Jeff's fearless athletes in the coming months.
Jeff has captured about half of the athletes he wants to include in his book a year from now. In particular, he wants to include more racial minorities in the book.
“As a person of color who teaches ethnic studies,” Sheng says, “I just think too much of the gay world is white male focused, and while it may be more difficult for me, I want to really present as diverse of a group of people as possible in my project.”

On his site, Sheng lists five main selfless goals for the project:

– To use photography and the visual medium to effectively educate the public and eliminate prejudice and discrimination;
– To increase acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth in high schools and colleges;
– To decrease homophobia in athletics;
– To give LGBTQ youth an online resource for support, particularly at risk youth who feel isolated from their peers;
– To help educators, administrators and coaches meet the needs of LGBTQ youth in their schools, teams and communities.
If you are an active high school or collegiate athlete, if you want to help with these goals, and you’re interested in being a part of Sheng’s wonderful, breathtaking project, email him at [email protected].

Jeff has various trips scheduled for various corners of the country over the rest of 2008. Be sure to visit the project’s site at to see when he may be in your area. And if it's not on his docket, drop him a line – he'll be adding trips all the time.

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