HOUSTON -- Eden Torres has photographed thousands of people, from politicians to celebrities. She's the founder of Pride Portraits, the largest LGBTQIA+ visibility campaign to date.
While she's used to being behind the lens, Eden is stepping in front of the camera to share her own journey to finding her true self. As a proud trans Latina woman, she's hoping to empower people to be the best versions of themselves.
"In my thirties, I finally figured out that, oh my gosh, I'm a trans woman," Eden said. "And I wish that I had the type of visibility campaigns that we had today so I could have seen that type of representation that long ago."
Eden first started Pride Portraits, a nonprofit, after the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando in 2016.
"I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that people wanted LGBTQIA people dead for simply existing," she said. "It shook me to my core."
She began photographing people outside of a colorful Pride Wall mural in Houston and collecting their stories. It all started with a social media post offering free Pride photographs to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community.
"Like 100 people showed up," she said. "I was so surprised. But people needed this. They needed to feel seen and feel happy and joyful and prideful."
Six years later, she has now photographed around 7,000 people as part of Pride Portraits.
"Telling our stories through our personal narratives and showing ourselves through photographs humanizes who we are for people who don't understand us," said Torres. "And everyone's story is so vital."
As Pride Portraits began to grow, Eden decided to create Trans Pride Portraits - free, quality, professional portraits taken without the official Pride Portraits backdrop.
"I was really just proud of how far I had come in being a passable and proud transgender man," said Dane, a participant in Pride Portraits. "I wanted to commemorate that and celebrate how much I had fallen in love with myself."
"As a Black trans man in America, being seen is important," said Jevon, another Pride Portraits participant. "I'm just here to normalize who we are."
"My hope is that Pride Portraits is seen as a positive, impactful piece of work that allows people to not only be visible but for others to learn about us," said Torres.
For more on Pride Portraits, visit prideportraits.org.
The LGBTQIA+ community is not a monolith. It is multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-faith and multidimensional. This Pride Month, we're celebrating members of that diverse community as a part of a special series called Our America: Who I'm Meant to Be. Click here for more stories from your city and around the country.