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Orlando Strong: Powerful Portraits Show LGBT Unity

Photographer Wayne Lawrence captured these portraits of the Orlando community responding to the killings at the Pulse nightclub.

Jorion Range, Ismael "Izzy" Vazquez, and Heath Marvin attend a vigil for the victims of the Orlando nightclub attacks. Wayne Lawrence / National Geographic

“It’s finally our turn to say something and say something loud now that the spotlight is on us,” says Ismael Vazquez, pictured above

Photographer Wayne Lawrence captured these portraits of the Orlando community responding to the killings at the Pulse nightclub. As pointed out in the accompanying National Geographic article, "in one fell swoop, the attack was not only the deadliest mass shooting in American history and the worst terrorist attack since 9/11—it was the deadliest hate crime against LGBT people and Latino people."

One might expect words of anger in the wake of such horror, but according to writer Melody Rowell, "virtually all of the people we spoke to for these portraits speak of love, unity, and hope." Here are a few of those portraits.

 Xiomara Flores, with her partner, Timisha Grandstaff, and their daughters, Kiele Mahina, right, and Samadhi Grandstaff Wayne Lawrence / National Geographic

Xiomara Flores, with her partner, Timisha Grandstaff, and their daughters, Kiele Mahina, right, and Samadhi Grandstaff

“Having two kids—one’s 12 and one’s six years old—and now they don’t even know if they’ll have both parents coming home one day. They don’t know if we’ll be safe. They got treated differently at school before this even happened. So now this is even more of a wake-up call, and we really just need to be aware and protect our family, and just love each other. Like, carry no hate,” Flores says.

Demetrius Spires

“I was at Pulse the night of the shooting. I was on my way home. I was standing at the door when all of a sudden I heard gunshots and all that. And I ran out the door and I didn’t look back. My heart goes out to everybody that has family that was involved or killed inside that shooting.”

 Kevin Borelli "Everybody needs to be together in these times of need. Not just now but everyday. It can happen to anybody. It can happen anywhere as well. And to know that a specific community was targeted, it's really heartbreaking and it's just unreal." Wayne Lawrence / National Geographic

Kevin Borelli

"Everybody needs to be together in these times of need. Not just now but everyday. It can happen to anybody. It can happen anywhere as well. And to know that a specific community was targeted, it's really heartbreaking and it's just unreal."

See more of Wayne Lawrence's portraits on National Geographic