Documentary photographer Vincent Cianni offers a stark and stunning look at gay and lesbian service members in his forthcoming book,Gays in the Military.
Cianni's collection, which is slated for an April 30 release and published by Daylight Books, follows American military officers who faced enormous challenges before (and during) the days of "don't ask, don't tell," (DADT) as well as their subsequent journey following thecontroversial legislation's 2011 repeal.
Cianni told The Huffington Post that he traveled through the U.S. from November 2009 to June 2013, during which he shot photographs and recorded oral histories of roughly 100 gay and lesbian service members and veterans, all of which recounted the impact that the ban on serving openly had on their careers in the armed forces and lives afterward.
"The effort to gain their trust was a delicate process and the resolve to achieve it proved fruitful in many ways, particularly on a personal level," Cianni, who is based in Newburgh, N.Y., said. "I remember leaving each time as emotionally drained as they were, recognizing how horrible some of their experiences were and what personal sacrifices they made."
Cianni usually shot the photographs after the interviews were conducted, so by then, the photographer and his subjects "had created our own brief history, of intimacy and vulnerability."
"I hope these photographs and interviews honor their lives in service to their country and stand as a testament to everyone's right to choose to serve our country based on our beliefs and in a way we see fit," he said.