Photographer Teams Up With Facebook to Bring Visibility to the LGBTQ Community

A Texas photographer who uses imagery to uplift, spread awareness and progression of the LGBTQ community visibility is teaming up with Facebook for Pride.  

Texas photographer Eric Edward Schell spent a lot of his life being invisible. Growing up, Schell was a victim of violent bullying because he was a gay man of color. He spent his twenties were spent trying to find a place and identity in a society where he didn't fit the "norm." The struggles sent him into years of alcohol and substance abuse. When Schell got sober at 31 he found a way to be a part of his community, one that wasn't centered around drugs, sex, or alcohol. Activism.

The attack at Pulse nightclub in 2016 took the lives of 49 people from the LGBTQ Community and prompted Schell's work to bring visibility to his community through photography. It turns out that is exactly what the community needed. Schell photographed individuals who were being interviewed about the shooting in front of this colorful wall. He received an amazing response when he posted the images to Facebook that night. Schell decided to create a Facebook event titled Pride Portraits to take more of the colorful images of people from the community. He was amazed when over 100 people showed up, mostly strangers from Facebook. 

Put  it out there, you never know who will see it

Schell didn't see Pride Portraits coming to an end any time soon so he connected with Hugo Perez for a commissioned painted backdrop he could use from then on. Perez created this beautiful energetic backdrop in the colors of the Pride flag. Schell has now partnered with major organizations such as Human Rights, Equality Texas, GLAAD, GLSEN, and PFLAG. To date, Pride Portraits has photographed over 3,500 LGBTQIA+ community members and allies.

This weekend, Pride Portraits partnered with Facebook as part of the Pride Programming and celebrations. Schell and his team will be spending time at the Facebook headquarters photographing some of their employees and joining them in the San Francisco Pride Parade. Schell's dedication and passion for the project led to some amazing opportunities so far, he credits it to putting his work out there for the world to see and staying humble and selfless. To explore the images or learn more about the project visit the Pride Portraits website

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50 Comments

Rob Davis's picture

Nice work Eric. Turning that pain into something beautiful like this is an amazing achievement.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Absolutely agree, this took a lot of special courage and strength as well so it is even more impressive.

going to do a series on straight white men. project is against discrimination of white men and genocide on white culture. being black myself i hope i can get lots of exposure. lets see if we can kick of some controversial works to get extra attention. then ill start begging on kickstarter, i need 100k to do 3 signed prints. all the money goes to my future projects.

Simon Patterson's picture

No doubt a very worthy cause! Your future projects, I mean. ☺

I like your t-shirt. Is that a target on the back? ;-)

Jon Kellett's picture

There's no such thing as "white culture". There's culture of certain nations that happen to be predominantly white, but Caucasians don't have a culture. Neither do all predominantly white nations have the same culture.

You sound as if you feel threatened. You shouldn't feel threatened by this person doing good for a much discriminated against part of society.

There's no such thing as any racial culture, you're right, culture is localised to a community.

Lighten up. It was a joke. Nobody feels threatened by these kinds of movements.

Rob Davis's picture

There is such a thing as white culture, but there isn't a white race. Whiteness in the United States is effectively the dominant group by which every "other" group is defined as other. Being white has meant different things throughout history. For example, the Irish were not considered white until the fairly recently. This is why you see so many offended straight white men in this thread. They have never had to be categorized before like everyone else has in America, but because of demographic change they're starting to for the first time and they can't handle it.

Jon Kellett's picture

I contend that what you interpret as white culture is actually American culture. I say this because you mention how people were treated in your nation, which is different to how they were treated in mine.

My own country is predominantly white (74%), with the indigenous people (Maori) now only making up 15%. As a small young nation (officially come into being in 1840), our culture is very different to yours and is a blend of different cultures, from UK to Australian to Maori. We have two official spoken languages, English and Maori. Members of Parliament have the right to address in Te Reo Maori (Maori language) and our indigenous language, our taonga (treasure), is heard on radio and television. Our culture is coloured by our peoples, Maori, Caucasian and increasingly East Asian.

We have always excepted "white" as white, regardless of their origin. In our early years we discriminated against East Asians in general and Chinese in particular. The Maori, despite having certain rights guaranteed by our founding document, were also largely discriminated against. The sins of our past cannot be forgotten, but we can learn from them and try to avoid repeating them. For Maori, we've been making amends through treaty settlements, though the sad reality is that they're still over-represented in the worst statistics - This is nothing short of a damning and shameful indictment on the nations inability to govern all its people fairly and equitably.

In short, my own country is far from perfect but at least we do not conflate our nations culture as an ethnic one.

The original commentator sounds threatened - Why mention race at all? The photographer is working with all ethnicities and sexual identities (sexuality is complicated). I may be a white heterosexual male, but I've seen a lot of homophobia and racism in my time. It's not acceptable and we have the moral obligation to stand up for what's right. In the words of Edmund Burke: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Incidentally, about straight white men being offended - Yeah, we get that too sometimes. Not because they're being pigeon holed, but when equality (racial, sexual, take your pick) issues are raised. I think that people are finding the world too complex and are feeling out of their depth, all they want is a return to a more simple life, a life where they didn't have to consider the rights and feelings of others.

Rob Davis's picture

I would say New Zealand, from what I know and what you are describing does have a similar white culture (read: White Anglo Christian Colonialism). Looking briefly at the composition of your political leadership and your Maori crime statistics which closely mirror our African-American crime statistics (both colonized groups) it seems you have a similar legacy of white supremacy the United States has, though different in certain ways.

I think it's so hard to see white culture because in European colonies like ours, we rarely have to deal with it. We are the norm, by which all other groups are defined as "other." I imagine if you asked members of New Zealand's minority groups you'd get a different answer.

I imagine the Maori underperform even when compared to other minority groups in New Zealand (read: Blauner Hypothesis).

Jon Kellett's picture

I'm disappointed that you've come to the conclusion that you have, as it is most definitely way off track.

Lets get this part out of the way: I have Maori relatives and my partner is Chinese. NZ is culturally a very young country and really only found it's voice after several notable occasions: WWI, 1970s (more recognition of wrongs committed against Maori, such as invalid land confiscations or improper recompense, also occupations like Bastion Point) 1980s (when our current culture was defined by a new to us sense of pride in our country and bi-racial makeup. A period where a Moari language song hit #1 on the music charts and our most popular comedian was a Maori guy who was raised by white parents. Also when we rioted in the streets against the Springbok rugby team being allowed into NZ - Their govt been South Africa) and finally the 1990s (recession, high unemployment and renewed effort to resolve treaty settlements).

There has never been legalised discrimination in NZ and Maori were granted full rights as citizens of the British empire at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (our founding document, 1840). Inter-racial relationships have been common here since day one and, as such, some Maori look as white as me. Many of our towns and cities have no English name and many many streets and landmarks have no English name either. We are proud of our Maori heritage and almost every Kiwi (named after the bird, not kiwifruit) can do a reasonable haka (Google it). Our national anthem has verses in English and Maori.

Where racism occurred here (pre-2000's) was primarily where some people saw wrongs being righted and were upset that they themselves weren't getting any benefit. This was a big thing in the 1990's when not only was there were a lot of treaty settlements happening, but our education system went from free to user-pays. Maori were entitled to a limited number of sponsored spaces, an attempt to encourage more into higher education instead of factory and other low pay work. Those who were complaining were, more often than not, those who didn't want to take a student loan to better themselves. These were the days of very high unemployment and an identity crises after the nation found it's voice in the 1980s.

Even during the above period, white males would rather have been castrated in public than be called a racist, such was our national identity at the time.

Currently there are a few people who complain that Chinese non-residents are buying all the housing stock in our largest city. This is nothing short of ignorance and ignoring the statistics. For every voice that raises this racist notion, there is a groundswell of voices apposed to such a simplistic race-based idea. A recent survey in our largest city found that over the last five years, the public views Chinese (and other Asians) more favorably than before - Proving that any racism is decreasing. Incidentally, our largest city holds ~1/3 of our population.

There is so much more that should be said, but I do wonder if you would ever agree. BTW: The Blauner Hypothesis is falsified by the experience of Pacific Islanders in the 1990s and Chinese in the late 2000's - early 2010s.

I do have a question though: Why the heck are we talking about race, when the original issue was one of homophobia? :-)

Allen Morris's picture

You’re free to design whatever project you’d like. I don’t understand why you decided to post your intent as a response to this article, however.

I'll help you to understand. It was a joke. Better?

Allen Morris's picture

I’d like to hear from Dennis on his own comment, but thanks for the attempt to speak for someone else :)

That's okay. I'm happy to speak for everyone. I told your boss how you *really* feel about him! ;-)

Allen Morris's picture

Well I run my own business, and have low self-esteem, so it must have been very nasty! :)

:-) I have to say, you're one of my favorite commenters here.

Allen Morris's picture

You’re in my top 5 as well

If I vote you up more or tell more jokes, can I move up? :-)

Allen Morris's picture

Haha sure!

Rob Davis's picture

If people aren't getting your jokes what does that say about your comedy?

There will always be people who don't get someone's jokes, either due to a lack of context or they just don't realize it was a joke. Additionally, and more to your point, they just won't think it's funny. That's not to say it isn't funny to someone. Dennis made a joke. I recognized it as such. I have yet to see evidence you have a sense of humor but I'm holding out hope. :-)

Rob Davis's picture

I love comedy. Maybe that's why I didn't find it that funny. If you want to play the anti-pc aggrieved white male (or in this case black man on behalf of anti-pc aggrieved white males) I think Bill Burr is hilarious. Don't agree with him all of the time, but he's funny.

I'm not anti-anything. Well, maybe anti-common sense. I've never heard of Bill Burr. I'll give him a listen. Lewis Black drives me nuts but he's hilarious!

Rob Davis's picture

I don't know if I believe in common sense. Some peak Bill Burr: https://youtu.be/E3s-qZsjK8I

It doesn't seem to be very "common", that's for sure.
He IS funny! Thanks!

Alex Dylikowski's picture

“We weep over our sins. We don’t celebrate them. We don’t institutionalize them.”

You might want to cite the source since you put it in quotes.

Visibility? Seriously? It's everywhere and it's all we ever hear. Most people don't care what you do, we just don't want it shoved in our face every 5 minutes.

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