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Houston-Based Pride Portraits Gets a Major ‘Like’ from Facebook

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Schell to photograph company’s employees, march with them in San Francisco parade.

By Lourdes Zavaleta

Social media has transformed the way in which people can be activists, according to Houston’s Eric Edward Schell.

“The LGBTQIA+ community now has a platform to be visible, represented and humanized like no generation has had before,” says Schell, creator of Pride Portraits. “Facebook has changed the way our community engages with one another. With a single click of a button, our content has the potential to be seen across the globe.”

Schell, who is originally from San Francisco, will return to the city next week to join Facebook as part of the company’s LGBTQ Pride celebration. He will take Pride Portraits of Facebook employees and march with them in San Francisco’s parade. 

“Every year, we have hundreds of employees take part in marching in the San Francisco Pride parade,” says Nick White, Facebook’s consumer communications manager. “We’re celebrating people like Eric who build community using Facebook, and his work is an excellent way to create visibility for LGBTQ people.”

Schell’s Pride Portraits are dedicated to representing the LGBTQ community and its allies, one photograph and story at a time. The portraits include statements from the subjects, describing their reasons for “being visible.”

In the two years since launching Pride Portraits, Schell has photographed more than 3,000 LGBTQ people and allies, from local activists to celebrities. The project began when Schell created a Facebook event for June 29, 2016, where he took “Pride Portraits” in front of the rainbow-colored wall on Tuam Street, free of charge.

“LGBTQIA+ celebrities, political leaders, national organizations, grassroots activists and people who simply exist within the spectrum are all connected through [Facebook],” Schell says. “Knowing this, however, did not prepare me for the day I would say, ‘I can’t believe that, two years ago, I made a Facebook event titled Pride Portraits, and today I’m partnering with Facebook.’”

Schell will travel to San Francisco with his partner, Pride Portraits director of operations Crimson Jordan. 

“Being a part of Facebook’s 2018 Pride programming is an honor, to say the least,” Schell says. “I had no idea the magnitude of Pride Portraits visibility until now. It is astounding to me that the page of a grassroots organization from the South caught the eye of Facebook itself, [which] has over 2.19 billion monthly active users.”

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Lourdes Zavaleta

Lourdes Zavaleta recently graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in journalism. She is a staff writer for OutSmart magazine.
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