Here Are 8 Of The Most Inspiring LGBT Instagram Stories Of 2015

What an incredible year!

There's no question that Instagram has evolved beyond a place to share a snapshot of your exotic vacation, adorable kitten or epic restaurant meal.

The online photo-and-video sharing, social networking app, which had 400 million users as of September, has also become a platform for innovative storytelling. Among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Instagram users, the documentation and personal narratives are at once inspiring, heartbreaking and everything in between. Witness California couple Ryan Donegan and Scott Snider, who got engaged on Instagram in an effort to give hope to those in regions without marriage equality, and Leo Sheng, who documented his journey as a transgender man on the app.

"Instagram offers the LGBT community a sense of belonging and a place to share stories of inspiration with one another," an Instagram spokesman told HuffPost Gay Voices in an email. "By searching for hashtags like #instagay, #gaypride or #lgbtq, people can connect with millions of others around the world who have shared similar struggles and triumphs."

With 2016 rapidly approaching, we've rounded up 8 of the most inspiring LGBT Instagram stories of the past year. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, we think the collection represents some of the best of what the app has to offer.

1
Leo Sheng
Instagram
Leo Sheng (@isupersheng) is a 19-year-old transgender man who used Instagram to share with the public his journey to becoming his authentic, realized self. By chronicling his transition, Sheng vulnerably and bravely opened himself up to the Instagram community in an incredible display of what it means to be transgender.
2
Michael Tatalovich
Instagram
Eighteen-year-old Michael Tatalovich (@mtat95) was diagnosed with cancer and decided to share his journey to recovery through provocative, stark and inspiring photos onInstagram. “Yes, I am gay. Yes, I am a cancer survivor. Yes, I like science. But I am none of those things individually. I am a human, hurdling through space and time at the same rate as all of the other beings on this planet are.”
3
Andreja Pejic

Afternoon!! Off to go pillow shopping.😌

A photo posted by Andreja Pejic (@andrejapejic) on

Instagram
Supermodel Andreja Pejic (@andrejapejic) who was previously working as an androgynous male model and self-described as living "in between genders,” came out as transgender women via an Instagram post. She became the first openly transgender model profiled by Vogue in its May 2015 issue.
4
#InstaPride
Instagram
Miley Cyrus started the #InstaPride transawareness campaign which featured portraits of transgender and gender expansive individuals, created and captured by Miley. The project lived natively on Instagram and leveraged the power of the platform by promoting tolerance, diversity, and self-expression through visual storytelling. The campaign was originally only scheduled to last two weeks, but continued throughout the year.
5
Kristin Beck

Air Force One on the Tarmac... Honored to be here with Secret Service and SF buddies.

A photo posted by Kristin Beck (@theladyvalor) on

Instagram
Kristin Beck (@theladyvalor) is a former United States Navy SEAL who gained public attention when she came out as a trans woman. Krstin is now campaigning for Congress in Maryland's 5th district and documenting her journey via Instagram.
6
Hari Nef

@sofiamalamute for @voguemagazine & @patmcgrathreal #phantom002 #patsdiner

A photo posted by @harinef on

Instagram
Hari Nef (@harinef), the first trans woman to be signed to major modeling agency IMG (which represents industry leaders like Joan Smalls and Gisele Bundchen), and a model, LGBT activist, and actress. She was profiled by Vogue in June of this year.
8
Ryan Donegan and Scott Snider

💙 #RyanandScott

A photo posted by Ryan Patrick Donegan (@ryanpdonegan) on

Ryan Donegan (@ryanpdonegan) met his boyfriend, Scott Snider (@scttsndr) on Instagram, so it seemed like a natural choice to document their April engagement on the app, too. Ultimately, the Los Angeles-based couple hopes their story will give hope to those who are still in places where discrimination is built into the legal system that should be protecting them" and "show the world love is what matters above all else."

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