Photo exhibit of athletes who have come “out” goes on display at UNL

Story and photos by: Meghin Williams, NewsNetNebraska

A college tennis player is one of the students who comes “out” in a photo exhibit at the Nebraska Union.

The Exhibit 

Jeff Sheng calls it the “The Fearless Project.”

The project contains Jeff Shengs photographs and stories of  “out” lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender athletes on high school and college sports teams. This week it went on display at the Rotunda Gallery inside UNL’s Nebraska Union.

“The Fearless Project,” was inspired by Jeff Sheng’s personal experiences as a closeted high school athlete. Between 2003-2006 photographed around 30 athletes and began to speak at high schools and colleges in hopes of shedding light on homophobia within the sports communities.

A UNL student visits the Sheng exhibit.

Some UNL students were supportive of Sheng’s exhibit. Others would prefer not to see it.

“I didn’t know about it, had no idea it even existed, and even if I did I don’t think I would go (because) I’m straight and catholic,” said one student who asked not to be identified.

UNL sophomore Katie Collins was supportive of the exhibit which runs through October 11th.

“I think it was amazing, times are changing and its great to see pictures and stories that reflect the changes that are going on around us, change isn’t always a bad thing,” said Collins.

Along with “The Fearless Project” photos from Sheng’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” series were on display. The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” portion of the exhibit contains photographs taken between the years of 2009 and 20011 of closeted service members in the United States military affected by the policy of the same name prohibiting open service in the military by those that were LGBTQ identified.

The exhibit is part of the kick off for UNL’s LGBTQA history month.

Image 2
Two soldiers embrace in a photo from the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” portion of the Jeff Sheng exhibit at the UNL Nebraska Union.

Jeff Sheng

Between 2006-2011 his exhibit was at more than 50 high schools and colleges around the United States. The photographs expanded from 50 to 100 athletes. The exhibit was placed at ESPN head quarters to spread awareness of LGBTQA lifestyles.

Aside from “ The Fearless Project” Sheng’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” series which has also been published and profiled in The New York Times,

The Los Angeles Times, Time magazine, and many other publications.


Jeff Sheng’s “The Fearless Project,” and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” come to UNL’s Nebraska Union September 30th – October 11th.

Jeff Sheng’s “The Fearless Project,” and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” come to UNL’s Nebraska Union September 30th – October 11th.


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