This Beautiful Photo Series Depicts The Lives Of LGBT People Around The Globe

    "Those silenced by persecution need to have their voices heard."

    National Geographic photographer Robin Hammond's photo series, "Where Love Is Illegal," has called much-needed attention to the lives of LGBT people living in danger around the world.

    As the project has evolved, Hammond has been giving vulnerable LGBT people a platform to tell their own stories, especially through Instagram, where the project has more than 132,000 followers and counting.

    "I wanted this to be a social media campaign from early on," Robin Hammond told BuzzFeed News. "People who are discriminated against intentionally are also silenced. Their voices are taken from them."

    Wherever they live, LGBT people can share their stories through the project's website, and Hammond along with volunteers edit them and post the images across their online channels.

    Some of the images are straightforward yet revealing portraits where the subject is able to express their sexual or gender identity openly.

    Others are more artfully composed and typically express the subject's experience of living as an LGBT person.

    Some of the images document the triumph of love in difficult circumstances.

    Other images document what happens to LGBT people in countries where it is forbidden for them to express their gender or sexuality.

    Many of the images don't show the faces of their subjects because, according to Hammond, "people are fearing for their lives."

    However, even when people's faces are covered, Hammond emphasizes that the images and stories are also testaments to the courage of the subjects, who are willing to tell their stories despite their fear.

    "I wanted the work to reach the widest audience possible," Hammond said. "I had this idea that those silenced by persecution need to have their voices heard."

    The series has evolved from interactions between a single photographer and his subjects, to sustained dialogues about the plight of LGBT people internationally.

    The project also demonstrates that even in so-called "progressive" countries like the United States, LGBT people are still endangered.

    The nuanced photo series continues to pick up force.

    "When I was taking these photographs it was very much a collaborative project," Hammond said. "Opening the project up is an extension of that collaboration."

    As the project develops, Hammond hopes that it continues to raise awareness, and allow people to go beyond the borders of their own countries.

    "Where Love Is Illegal" also collects donations through their website to support three grassroots organizations in Africa fighting for LGBT rights with extremely limited resources.

    "The big vision is to have people everywhere heard," Hammond said, "so that one’s sexuality or gender identity doesn’t mean that they cannot express themselves, wherever they live."

    To see and read more of "Where Love Is Illegal," visit their web site or follow them on Instagram, where you can also watch videos inspired by Robin Hammond's photographs.