Watch LGBTQ couples explain why they got married right after the Orlando tragedy.
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Modern Love

Many of us hugged our loved ones a little bit tighter on June 12, 2016. That was especially true for LGBTQ people.

After a gunman opened fire in a queer Orlando nightclub, we were reminded yet again that being part of the LGBTQ community still means living on the receiving end of discriminatory violence. That — even as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of national marriage equality — being LGBTQ can still mean being treated as less than.

The bigotry that spilled over on June 12 also reminded us of one very powerful thing: that love is love is love is love. If any one thing can triumph over the hate that exists in one man's heart, it's the resiliency that exists in our own.


Just ask Marko Jovanov and Mario Rodriguez, who tied the knot in NYC soon after 49 victims — many of them queer people of color — lost their lives in Orlando.

"It was important to still go through with our wedding, despite what happened," Jovanov explained to Upworthy.

Now, Jovanov and Rodriquez's marriage means something so much more.

"It is a sort of tribute to make sure that we are still visible, we are going on the way that we want to be," Jovanov said. "We're not afraid."

Watch Jovanov and Rodriguez and another same-sex couple explain in their own words why they decided to get married in the wake of tragedy:

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.