Exhibition on out student athletes added to programme of Pride House 2012

London, 20 July 2012

Exhibition on out student athletes added to programme of Pride House 2012
Expanded electronic version of ‘Fearless’ will make its European debut

The Federation of Gay Games and Pride House 2012 are pleased to announce the addition of a new exhibition to its programme of events for the Olympics. In addition to the already-announced exhibition ‘Against the Rules’, photographer Jeff Sheng will be showing a newly expanded electronic version of his ground-breaking exhibition ‘Fearless’.

Pride House 2012 is a project of Pride Sports UK, in collaboration with the Federation of Gay Games, the European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation (EGLSF), GLISA International, the LGBT Consortium, and the Pride House Foundation and aims to offer a welcoming space for all athletes, staff, spectators and friends of London 2012. Pride House 2012 will be open from 3 to 7 August at CA House in Limehouse Basin on the river Thames, with the Pride House 2012 festival continuing in various venues through 12 August, the day of the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Lou Englefield, Executive Director of lead partner Pride Sports, presented her pleasure at rounding out the exhibition programme with ‘Fearless’: ‘While “Against the Rules” looks at out sports icons of the past and the present, “Fearless” presents role models for today and tomorrow. We know from experience the power this exhibition can have, both as works of art and as testimony of the courage of young people today. Whatever their future in sports, they are sports heroes.’

‘Fearless’ is a long-term project of noted American photographer Jeff Sheng, who travels to high school and university campuses in the US to capture portraits of young out student athletes. Olympic speed skater and Gay Games Ambassador Blake Skjellerup attributes his own public coming out to his encounter with the exhibition at the 2010 Pride House in Vancouver, taking the courage of these young people as a model to follow.

Jeff Sheng presents the project: ‘In 2003, I began “Fearless,” documenting high school and collegiate athletes who openly self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender and are “out” to their predominantly straight teammates and coaches.  Since then, I’ve photographed over 150 athletes across the United States and Canada for this series.  In 2006, I began exhibiting the project at various high schools and colleges as part of what I named the “Fearless Campus Tour”. So far, the project has been seen at over fifty college and high school campuses around the United States, as well as ESPN headquarters, the 2009 International LGBT Human Rights conference at GLISA World Outgames in Copenhagen, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and at Nike World Headquarters. I’m very happy to now bring it in an electronic format to Pride House during the Olympics.’

Les Johnson, co-chair of the Federation of Gay Games’ External Affairs committee, spoke of his own encounter with Jeff Sheng at the recent Nike LGBT Sport Summit: ‘Jeff is both talented and motivated in using his art as a tool for social change. In parallel with “Fearless Campus Tour”, he undertook a new project to portray closeted US military personnel under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. With regard to athletes, we know the difficulties of young people, and in particular young athletes, in coming out. Those shown in the exhibition are truly “fearless”. I’m very pleased that despite time and budget constraints, Jeff responded to my request to participate in Pride House by offering an electronic version of the exhibition, which we hope will inspire others to come out.’

Sheng added: ‘Beyond the pleasure of being part of the experience of the Olympics, this exhibition coincides with the relaunch of my website in view of my new project to turn “Fearless” into a book, like those I produced for my “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” series.’

More about Pride House 2012 at http://pridehouse2012.org and http://www.facebook.com/pridehouse2012
Learn more about “Fearless” at http://www.fearlessproject.org
upport his Fearless book project HERE