The Camera in the Closet: Gay Service Members Speak Out to ABC News About Don't Ask, Don't Tell


"If the policy was changed, I would like to re-enlist into the military," he said. "I like the core structure of it. I like the core values. I think they are great values. I love the structure of everything, how everything has a set time, the uniformity of everything. I am very much a military brat and I thrive under stress and under pressure and all that and I love it. I love the physical aspect, the mental aspect, everything. But right now, as far as my conscience goes I cannot continue to serve under this policy."

He says he has no hard feelings toward his fellow soldiers or his superiors.

"When you get injured over there you don't get injured because you are gay or because you are straight or because you are white or you're black or you're Hispanic. It is because you are a U.S. soldier, or an airman, or U.S. Navy personnel. Everybody is doing their service over there and they are doing it very, very well and I have the utmost respect for everyone over there."

Bustos says he understands he is taking a chance by openly violating the policy and coming out on national television. He is willing to take that chance.

"I am violating 'don't ask, don't tell,'" he said, "And I understand if [my Commander] has to, he has to take the proceedings he does, because it is something he has to do. I am willing to take responsibility for this, I am willing to take anything that comes my way through this ... it will be for a better cause and hopefully it might change or be something in the process to change the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy."

Bustos felt compelled to come out to the military and to the world, but he had not yet come out to his own mother.

"I believe my mom will be shocked," Bustos said."But she loves me unconditionally. I trust her... but I also love her so much that I will give her space to react emotionally in whatever way she needs to. "

Anthony said he does not seek fame, or a place in history. He wants people to see the face of gay soldiers. "I am here to give a voice and a face and to humanize something that seems so inhuman," he said. "I want this subject to be important right now."

Right after his interview, Bustos called his mom in Texas.

"She was very supportive," he said. "She was great."

His Camera, Their Closet

Jeff Sheng started his "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" project at the direct behest of service members who contacted him after "Fearless," his series featuring out, gay student athletes gained national attention.

At 29, Sheng recalls his experience coming out of the closet as an undergraduate at Harvard. As hard as approaching his family was for Sheng, he knows it is in some ways more difficult for the subjects in this series. Sheng says the project has kept him up some nights.

"I realized it was a risk," he said. "I thought long and hard about working on a project like this."

Sheng says he hopes the images he creates will in some way highlight not just the differences between closeted service members and their straight counterparts, but also will emphasize their commonality.

"I think photographs have the power to move people that sometimes words don't," Sheng said. "And you look at these images and what you see is that people who are gay or lesbian who are closeted look very similar, the same, as people you would assume to be straight. And that's a powerful message."

Sheng said the reaction to the project has moved him. He describes many of the e-mails he receives as "heartbreaking."

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