Exhibition: Fearless

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.’

Thanks to Jeff Sheng for making the video version of “Fearless” available online for everyone. See it on a big screen in a room full of like-minded people at Pride House!

‘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
S
upport his Fearless book project HERE

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University of Toronto hosts workshop on Pride Houses

The University of Toronto will host tomorrow 23 November 2012 a workshop designed to forward the plans for a Pride House in Toronto during the time of the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games and examine the issues of Pride Houses in international sport generally. The ambition is to ensure that Toronto 2015 will be fully, visibly and celebratorily inclusive, and serve as a stimulus/beacon for equity issues generally. It is being jointly organized/sponsored by the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, the Department of Sexual Diversity Studies, the Office of Sexual and Gender Diversity, and Hart House at the University of Toronto.

Participating will be other partners in the 2015 Toronto Pride House, as well as those involved in Pride Houses past and future, including Dean Nelson from Vancouver Pride House and Lou Englefield (Pride Sports, EGLSF, FGG) from the 2012 Euro Pride House in Poland and the London Pride House.

We hope that this meeting will promote the goal of coordination and collaboration among Pride House projects set out during meetings at the London Pride House earlier this year, with a focus on the challenges of organizing a Pride House in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Other planned Pride Houses include Toronto, of course, and one for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and others in Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

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