Photography by Cedric Terrell
Although the stereotype has been that the branches of the United States military must be homophobic—impossible to feel comfortable being gay—with the Marines at the top of that heap. Former Marine Cedric Terrell says, however, he never experienced much discrimination—even before the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." "I would tell a person here or there," he says, about the time he served as active duty and in the reserves, from 2005 to 2013. "But I never had a negative response. I know I’m lucky—I'm sure it happened behind my back—but it never happened to my face. I loved my time in the Marines."
While stationed in China, Terrell began to take photos as a hobby. When someone asked to buy a landscape that he'd had framed, he realized that maybe he could turn his hobby into a career. Since then, he has started to focus more on fashion and other subjects, gaining a larger clientele (he was also included in this year's 100 Most Eligible Bachelors list).
He knew about Alex Minsky and his story of being wounded in Afghanistan and losing his right leg. Although Minsky is straight, he had begun to reach a large audience, growing in popularity among gay men because of his underwear modeling. When Terrell reached out to Minsky, explaining that they were fellow Marines and he'd like to photograph him in something other than skivvies, Minsky was excited.
"He’s an inspiration to a lot of people, proving to people that they can still live normal lives and be successful, still be beautiful," Terrell explains. "Oh my god, he’s so hot. He gets hit on by guys from all over the world, but it doesn't bother him. But that didn’t distract me. It was just two Marines getting together for a photo shoot."
"Of course we photographed him in some underwear; he knows his biggest following is gay men," Terrell says. "But I wanted to do something different. He can do more than that. So I decided we’re going to pull wardrobe, and we would show he was more than an underwear model."
"We pulled a suit from Zara. Alex is a muscular guy, so we did have some issues with the fit. But he loved it," Terrell explains. "The shoe we pulled wouldn't fit on the prosthetic foot, so we had to Photoshop it in later. But it's Alex's smile, his energy that translates more than anything."