Stunning New Photo Series Honors Gay U.S. Soldiers

A new black and white photo essay published in the New York Times by photographer Vincent Cianni documents “the struggles and triumphs, dignities and indignities of gay and lesbian service members.”

The project was Cianni’s way of honoring soldiers, many of whom were unfairly discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, as well as being a part of the law’s repeal.

“I realized I wanted to be part of the repeal movement, and I asked myself, ‘What’s the best way I can contribute to the repeal of this policy?’” Cianni told NYT. “The best way I can contribute is to start talking to people and photographing people about this.”

The photos are a part of a larger project called “Gays In the Military,” which will be published as a book next month.

Scroll down to see a sampling of Cianni’s work.

Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fehrenbach served in the U.S. Air Force from 1991-2011. He was an F-15E Fighter Pilot and did tours of duty in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. He successfully fought his discharge under DADT after coming out on television in 2009.

JSB and Harry Pulver are both active duty members of the U.S. Army Reserves.

Staff Sergeant Anthony Loverde has been serving in the U.S. Air Force since 2001. He was deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008, he was honorably discharged in 2008 under DADT. Loverde reinstated in 2012 at his previous rank.

Matt McCary (right) served in the U.S. Air Force from 1998-2000. He was honorably discharged five days after being put under arrest when he was outed out by co-a worker. Chief Petty Officer David Cochenic (left) has served in the U.S. Navy since 1992-present.

Second Lieutenant Vonda Todd (left) was a memeber of the South Carolina National Guard from 1983-88, and a Major in theU.S. Army Reserves from 1998-2012. Mary Harris (right) served in the U.S. Army from 1982-87, and the U.S. Army Reserves from 1988-2002. Both women are retired, and both underwent an investigation based on their health insurance beneficiary forms and shared home address.

Staff Sergeant Eric Alva served in the Marine Corps from 1991-2004. He was the first U.S. military casualty in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is also a recipient of both a Purple Heart and Presidential Unit Citation.

Messman/Staff Officer Paul Goercke served in the U.S. Merchant Marines from 1944-45. He was deployed in Ie Shima Island, Japan; Hawaii and Saipan.

Marquell Smith served as a Corporal E4 in U.S. Marine Corps. He was discharged under DADT.

Heather Davies (left) sits with her former partner Lieutenant Shane Walley, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1989-98.

Master-at-Arms Petty Officer Third Class Joseph Rocha served in the U.S. Navy from 2004-2007. He was honorably discharged after coming out to his commanding officer.

Petty Officer Second Class Jase Daniels was the first service member to be reinstated after repeal of DADT. He served in the U.S. Navy from 2001-05, 2006-07, and 2011-present.

Private Dustin Hiersekorn (left) served in U.S. Marine Corps Reserves in 2010. He was discharged for medical reasons two weeks after enlisting. Specialist Zachary Werth (right) was a member of the Idaho Army National Guard from 2007-10.

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  • tchuy03

    Queerty can you be more inclusive, these are not only soldiers, they are airmen, Sailors, and Marines. Soldier term is just for the Army.

  • MikeE

    @tchuy03: 1sol·dier
    noun \?s?l-j?r\

    : a person who is in the military : a member of an army
    a : one engaged in military service and especially in the army
    b : an enlisted man or woman
    c : a skilled warrior

    the word “soldier” does not only refer to someone in the army. it refers to ANYONE in the military. nothing wrong with the use of the term “soldier” in this case. so relax.

  • yaoming

    What I noticed was that almost all of these people were no longer in the military at all – as soldiers, sailors, or whatever.

  • lykeitiz

    @yaoming: The article states that most of them were discharged under DADT.

  • Sandalphon

    Thank you to these honorable men and women who bravely served our country. Your service and dedication is greatly appreciated.

  • Artprince

    Impressive works Vince!
    The world gets a little bit better,when one comes out
    Peter Prins

  • Bob LaBlah

    I have been out of the closet more years than the majority of my fellow commenters on this site are old. Yes, my ways are a bit “set back in yester-year” but this is MY opinion:

    That last picture (the shirtless couple) shows poor taste. The first thing that goes thru my mind in that shirtless, twink’s-ass-resting-on-a-dick pose seems inappropriate for an article showcasing men and women who risked their lives for their country. I know they did too but was it really THAT necessary to show put a “I love to take dick in my ass” type shot? Had their shirts been on while holding hands I would not have said anything but this pose does not help win over those who see THAT pic for what it suggests. The picture featuring the lesbian couple showed class but the last one is trash at the worst moment.

  • jasentylar

    I wonder if any of the guys from Active Duty will be reinstated.

Comments are closed.