Miley Cyrus’ new Instagram project shares LGBTQ+ stories we all need to hear

Miley Cyrus has had an awesome couple months. She launched The Happy Hippy Foundation in early May, has been incredibly vocal about her own sexual and gender fluidity, performed amazing rock covers to raise awareness about the Happy Hippy campaign, and even released a brand new song we can’t stop listening to. And now, she’s teamed up with Instagram for another incredible reason.

“I’m launching #InstaPride today, in partnership with Instagram, to share stories of transgender and gender expansive people from around the country,” she wrote Monday on Instagram. “Over the next two weeks, you’ll meet them and the people in their lives who support them, as we highlight their stories of resilience.”

Cyrus is aiming to create a safe space for the LGBTQ+ young adult community on Instagram, encouraging people who identify as trans, genderqueer and gender non-conforming to strike a pose in a very public, positive, fun way. No photos are being taken of Cyrus (unless asked to join a selfie) —instead, all the attention is on young adults who have been marginalized and overlooked, young adults who have a story to share.

The Cyrus-Instagram collaboration (which launched yesterday) aims to “boost awareness and acceptance of people across the gender spectrum,” TIME reports.  Using the hashtag #InstaPride, people are posing against a bright, yellow background, covered in glitter, and surrounded by Happy Hippie’s signature smiley-face balloons. Some of these pictures have already gone live on Instagram, while others will be rolled out over the next couple of weeks.

Cyrus, who’s using her influence and public persona for an empowering cause, is helping establish a space for people to express themselves as they are. “Anyone should be able to express how they feel, without question, and be able to live,” Cyrus tells TIME.

Cyrus’ #InstaPride movement seems to also try to remedy the lack of diverse trans representation. Individuals like Precious Davis (a biracial trans woman) and her fiancé (a trans man), Mariana Marroquin (who sought refuge at the LA LGBT Center when her family in Guatemala rejected her), and Tyler Ford (who identifies as agender—or not identifying with either gender) are celebrated in Instagram photos. Ford, a 24-year-old writer, by the way, is Miley’s date for tonight’s AmfAR Gala.

“My narrative is not typical and because I think a lot of coming-out culture focuses on: ‘Okay you came out once and it’s done. You come out to everyone, let’s have a party, or it went really badly but that’s it and now you’re out for the rest of your life,’” Ford told i-D magazine recently. “And that’s not how it goes. Coming out is a lifelong process.”

Through #InstaPride, Ford and others will help continue to raise awareness about the process, and above all, let others know they’re not alone.

Sure, Miley has raised the hashtag’s profile, but at its core, the movement is a response to the (still vast) amount of LGBTQ+ teens and young adults who feel alienated and ostracized by our still very much hetero-normative society —a society that doesn’t foster and encourage sexual and gender fluidity as much as it could (and should).

That’s why it’s so important to have positive influences, from celebrities like Miley to activists like Ford, supporting and celebrating the identities of young people that for so long has been forced under wraps.

(Images via Instagram)