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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Previous comments
Anonymous's picture

Where are you frequenting where gay people are shoving things in your face every 5 minutes, lol?

Przemek Lodej's picture

You don't have to go anywhere in particular because lately it does feel like it's everywhere. At my work there are a few people who have rainbow flags hovering over their cubes, posters promoting LGBTQKFCCNN an other interests...I mean who cares what your sexual preference is? I don't care if you like boys, girls, animals or aliens...just don't wiggle it in front of my face ;)

Anonymous's picture

Well you have every right to be offended, just as they have every right to be proud :)

user-128901's picture

Boom. Roasted.

Michael Coen's picture

Folks, especially young people, who identify as LGBT are three times as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to contemplate suicide, and five times as likely to attempt it. Moreover, LGBT youth are twice as likely to be physically assaulted, and are the frequent targets of bullying. This is about promoting positivity, inclusion, and hope for their benefit and survival, not about shoving it in anyone's face. Until those numbers improve, it will be everywhere and it will be heard.

user-156929's picture

Too often, and in this case, there's little effort to ensure the effectiveness of actions. Rather than trying to "mainstream" a lifestyle, which will have mixed results, it would be far better to promote the idea that all individuals are worthy of respect and dignity because they're people and NOT because of their differences.
I see no benefit to the project in the article. Empathetic individuals will continue to be so and those with none, will continue unabated.

If, for example, members of a disaffected community were to go out of their way to help others (seniors, orphans, patients, etc..), they would be seen as integrating into the overall community in an obviously selfless way. Their differences would fade into insignificance. People would be more likely to disagree with their personal choices, which will likely never change, without denigrating the individuals, themselves.

Michael Coen's picture

You seem to be arguing that the LGBT community would do well to stop isolating itself, but the fact is we aren't doing that, it was done for us and without our consent. This isn't about "mainstreaming" a lifestyle, it's, as I said before, about saving lives. And the fact that Jones is promoting Pride isn't a negation of the importance and value of other lives. These aren't mutually exclusive. This is the same flawed reasoning that drove the "all lives matter" narrative in response to BLM. The fact of the matter is LGBT folks are different by virtue of the fact that we are constantly categorized that way, and that categorization is exemplified by several comments above. Gay pride is a response to being treated differently.

Also, what makes you think that gay people AREN'T going out into other communities and helping? I've volunteered with several organizations and I have quite a few friends whose stories aren't too different from Jones's, and whose lives are devoted to volunteering and civil service.

user-156929's picture

All good points. But, again, is the effort really helping the cause? I, for example, take pride in the work I do but none in my appearance or sexual orientation. I've done nothing to look this way or want to have sex with women. How I dress myself and act in public, however, is different. Just a thought.

I don't think they're volunteering or not because it's not being published. Of course nobody should advertise their good deeds but letting it be known, in an unassuming way, would go a long way.

For what it's worth, someone I love *very much* is bisexual so I'm not unaware of the challenges.

Michael Coen's picture

Is the effort really helping the cause? I would argue that it is. In the last 10 years we've seen a dramatic increase in the acceptance of homosexuality as a product of nature and has garnered a lot of support from folks who once abhorred it. Gay marriage has been legalized (for the most part). I do believe this kind of exposure and promotion have helped, yes.

user-156929's picture


As an aside, I don't understand promoting it as a product of nature. Doing so doesn't make it inherently good or bad and so must still be judged as moral or immoral, if one is inclined to do so. Ascribing it to nature is an unnecessary and irrelevant step. Consider being born with a cleft palate. Being born with one doesn't recommend it as good and, of course, most people would agree it's bad.

Michael Coen's picture


People who have accepted it understand that it is natural, rather than as a decision or because of some moral deficiency. Not clear on why that's controversial.

Moreover, a cleft palate is a physical deformity, homosexuality is not.

user-156929's picture

My point is, just because something is natural, doesn't make it beneficial or moral. From a religious point of view, all sin is natural but something to be avoided. Whether something is a deformity or not is dependent on how it benefits an individual or species. Sickle Cell Anemia was beneficial before the advent of modern medicine. Now, not so much.

Michael Coen's picture

This conversation was never about the morality or biological advantages of homosexuality. You asked whether promotions like the one in this article were effective, to which I responded yes, because more people have accepted homosexuality as a natural occurrence rather than an artificial construct or moral shortcoming. It is an important distinction because it is so often presented as a preference. Morality is a function choice in the context of what is generally acceptable or not. Because homosexuality is not a choice, morality is inconsequential in this regard, and therefore understanding it in terms of natural phenomena is important.

To your second point, again, physical maladies and homosexuality aren't the same things and aren't comparable scenarios.

user-156929's picture

I mentioned, as an aside, the advisability of bringing up the issue of homosexuality being natural or not. You responded. The conversation changed.

As to my second point, sickle cell anemia is only considered a malady due to its current balance of advantages vs disadvantages as an example, and ONLY an example, of nature being considered advantageous or not. All analogies are inherently flawed. One tries to make a point from the areas of applicability, disregarding the areas which are not.

Anyway, I think this has run its course but was interesting for me. :-)

Michael Coen's picture

Agreed. Take care.

Rob Davis's picture

As opposed to White Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture???

Jim Bolen's picture

You mean like how religion is shoved in my face on a regular basis?

user-156929's picture

There's a difference between shoving your beliefs in someone's face and not hiding them. I think we've all seen both cases from both sources.

user-156818's picture

Freedom of choice comes with responsibility. You are refusing to take responsibility for your action. You chose to click the link and read this article. Nobody shoved it in your face.

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

Pride is associated now with gay. Are they all proud to be gay? I don’t mean no disrespect by any means. But pride goes before fall ;)
I just find the word pride very unfitting.