Gays in the Military: How America Thanked Me is an oral history and photographic project documenting gay and lesbian service members and veterans from World War 2 to the present based on their experiences in the military and the effects on their careers and lives. This project will be housed in the archives of the Rare Books, Manuscripts and Special Collections Library at Duke University.
Although “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) has been repealed, there have been considerable effects from the ban on gays in the military over the years. The issues follow a long history of mistreatment that gay and lesbian people have endured. Harassment and discrimination based on sexual preference resulted in lost careers and personal lives. In many cases, these men and women - highly skilled, well educated, patriotic, courageous and productive - attained high rank, received numerous medals and held top-level jobs that were essential to the military. Under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" alone, more than 14,000 service members have been fired. Many more have suffered over the years.
WHAT I HAVE DONE AND WHAT I WILL DO
Through social networking sites, word of mouth, and referrals from agencies providing assistance to gay military personnel, I have photographed and interviewed over 70 people from all ranks in the military. I began photographing in November 2009 after hearing an interview by Private Nathanael Bodon's mother speaking to a local radio station about her son being outed by a platoon-mate while stationed in Iraq after seeing photographs with his boyfriend on a blog . He was subsequently discharged. From November 2009 until May 2010 I photographed in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Texas. In July and August 2010 – with the support of grants from the New School University and the Palm Center - I traveled the east and west coasts of the United States over a six-week period recording oral histories and making portraits of approximately 50 veterans and service members. My intentions are to continue photographing subjects in the coming year to amass up to 200 subjects.
This summer I will once again travel into the interior of the United States - the central and northern plains, the south and southwest and the northwest – with the intention of photographing most of the remainder of the subjects for the project. I am requesting your support to help fund this part of the project and become part of a community of concerned people who regard all lives equally. You will receive updates and be connected to my progress along the way through Kickstarter, my web site (http://vincentcianni.com) as well as on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and a profile on Out Service.
As a documentary photographer, my aim is to reveal the individual stories and the hidden side of people willing to serve and lay down their lives for our country. Through narrative and portraiture we get a glimpse of answers. My portraits and interviews will help answer complex questions about these brave individuals, our country and ourselves.. The Rare Books, Manuscripts and Special Collections Library established an archive in 2007 as a repository for all my documentary work. The primary objective of this initiative is to house the original interviews and photographs as well as all related material from this project in the archive as an historical record. It will then be available to the public as a research and study collection.
Through additional grants, future crowd funding initiatives and self-funding, I will also print the photographs and transcribe the interviews for exhibition. The first exhibition is scheduled for October 2011 at Fovea Editions in Beacon, NY, a gallery committed to present important documentary and photojournalism to the public. It will then travel to Boston and other cities in 2012. Any monies above the level requested here will be earmarked for the expenses of scanning and printing the photographs, transcribing the interviews and mounting the Fovea exhibition and future exhibitions.
This project is projected to reach a wide variety of audiences ranging from those interested in documentary photography and photojournalism, human and civil rights, the GLBT community, to government and political organizations, academia, the military and the general public. This project can help provide an understanding of a community who repeatedly experiences discrimination and misrepresentation. There is a need for continued discussion about sexual preference, race, gender and human and civil rights - the focus of this project - even after the mainstream media ceases to report on DADT and related issues.
You probably want to know where your money is going to. So here is an outline of the trip I will take and what it costs to get there and get around. All items are researched but taking into consideration fluctuations in air fare, gas prices, car rentals and how hungry I get or don't get, they are close approximations. Also, there are certain fees associated with Kickstarter that reduce the Project Goal Amount stated as well as postage to send out the Backer Rewards; the stated Goal takes these expenses into account.
Road Trip 1 (July, 2011)
Newburgh, NY to Washington, D.C., Alexandria, VA, Charlestown, WV and Ohio: 2000 miles@25 miles/gal = 80 gal petrol @ $3/gal.: $240 (using my own car)
Tolls and Parking: $50
Hotel: 9 days (prices variable, average price/night stay: $80): $720
Meals ($35/day, 9 days): $460
Road Trip 2 (July- August 2011)
R/T Airfare from Newburgh, NY to Denver, CO: $300
Taxi to/from airport @ $20/RT: $20
Rental Car (2 weeks @ $250/week): $500
Gas (Denver, CO to WY, ID, NV, AZ and NM: 4500 miles@25 miles/gal = 180 gal petrol @$4/gal.: $720
Tolls and parking: $50
Hotel: 10 days (prices variable, average price/night stay: $80): $800
Meals ($25/day, 14 days): $350
Miscellaneous Expenses (gratuities/baggage check/airport fees, etc.): $50
Road Trip 3 (August 2011)
R/T Airfare from Newburgh, NY to St. Louis, MO): $500
Taxi to/from airport @ $20/RT: $20
Rental Car (3 weeks @ $200/week): $600
Gas (St. Louis, MO to IA, NE, KS, OK,AK, LA, MS, AL TN, KY, MO)
6000 miles@25 miles/gal = 240 gal petrol @$3/gal: $720
Tolls and parking (approximate): $50
Hotel: 20 days (prices variable, average price/night stay: $80): $1600
Meals ($25/day, 20 days): $500
Miscellaneous Expenses (gratuities/baggage check/airport fees, etc.): $20
Assistant expenses for all three road trips: $600
- (30 days)