PHOTOS: Portraits of 'Gay Warriors' in a Post-DADT World
BY Lucas Grindley
December 11 2012 6:00 AM ET
"Phillip & Stephen"
Is there something that can be best learned about these subjects only from a photograph?
Photographs are direct imprints from reality, giving us a unique way to relate to what, or who, is reflected within them. People can look into the eyes of their fellow human beings, no matter how great the distance in time, place and experience, and connect with their stories and emotions in a direct, powerful way. These photographs give us a chance to see who these brave souls are, revealing their humanity, fragility, strength and love for each other.
What’s the most striking story you’ve heard so far from one of the subjects while taking the photographs?
Everyone has had a touching story to tell, but Phillip and Stephen's really struck me. Phillip Zimmerman was a highly qualified Arabic and Farsi interpreter in the Navy, until they kicked him out in 1986 for being gay. He lost a career that meant the world to him; the loss and rejection haunted him for 25 years, until "don't ask, don't tell" was repealed and he could once again serve the country he loves. He is now serving the Coast Guard Auxilliary as an Arabic and Farsi interpreter. Seeing Phillip beam with pride at being back in uniform, the emotional burden of 25 years melting away and Stephen, his partner of 17 years — now husband — supporting him through all of it, brings a tear to my eye every time I look at their picture.