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‘Models of Pride’ bring message of support for LGBT youth

Chelsea Bangert and Lou Pendergrass

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Freshman Susannah Ness walked through the USC campus during the 25th annual Models of Pride conference on Oct. 29, seeing a crowd of hundreds waving about rainbow flags and showing pride.

“I really like the environment and how everyone was so friendly and accepting,” Ness said. “Walking around I saw so many different unique people and it was super cool.”

The Los Angeles LGBT center’s massive scale event, located on the University of Southern California campus, involved dozens of workshops where teens learned about various subjects, including safe sex and coming out. Eventgoers could also take advantage of resource fairs including Planned Parenthood, colleges and careers. Both outdoors and indoors, anyone attending the event could have their voice heard.

“It’s connecting youth and professionals on a level that I’ve never personally seen before,” said Audrey Ford, the program coordinator and trainer at Rainbow Umbrella, a resource for LGBT youth.  

Models of Pride featured other selling points aside from the workshops and resource fairs. There was an entertainment hour, both lunch and dinner and even a dance. The dance could be better described as more of a party though, as attendees filtered into the fenced off lawn area to jam out. The evening programming featured queer performers including DJ Von Kiss, Troi Irons and Jazmyn Simone with Mark Miller and Ethan Hethcote hosting the event. Attendees could enjoy themselves throughout the night while watching the captivating performances.

“For a lot of youth, this is their first time coming to a queer space at all and just seeing it kind of affirms their identity for the first time and it gives them hope,” said event organizer Kevin McKleski.

Attendees for this year’s Models of Pride came from all over California to make friends, gain new resources and finally be in an environment that celebrates their existence. Although Models of Pride is focused around LGBT community members, people allied with the community were still able to go. One thing the event and its attendees focused on more than anything was love and acceptance.

“Whatever your sexual orientation or gender identity, this is a place to be you,” attendee Henry Lanier said.

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‘Models of Pride’ bring message of support for LGBT youth