Nearly 2,000 LGBTQ young people and parents attend empowerment conference

The 25th annual Models of Pride event drew a record crowd to the University of Southern California. The conference offered a full day of free life-enriching programming designed to help young people build confidence, self-esteem, and develop valuable life skills.

via Los Angeles LGBT Center

Organized by the LA LGBT Center’s LifeWorks youth development and mentoring program, the day included more than 100 workshops and presentations. Coinciding with the youth workshops was an all-day conference for adults who support LGBTQ youth.

“Our child just told us three weeks ago that she is a transgender female and we’ve been looking for some people to talk to and support groups,” Gregory explained during a lunch break.

He spent the morning talking to other parents at a PFLAG workshop and was feeling more connected.

“I’ve met some people who were very helpful and who have great stories,” he said. “We love our child. That’s the key.”

Gay college student Jesus, 22, loved feeling like he was in a safe space to just be himself.

“It’s definitely different to be surrounded by so many other people like you,” he said. “You don’t have to be so mindful of what people think of you of how they feel about people being gay. You don’t feel like you have to be cautious or feel uncomfortable. It’s nice.”

In addition to the job fair, Models of Pride featured a career fair with LGBT-friendly companies on hand.

“This is so inspirational just to be here,” said Carl Jordan, a senior vice president and regional manager for U.S. Bank. “I look at all these people who can bring themselves to an event like this with admiration. Knowing what I went through when I was in school, it means a lot personally and also professionally.”

The Presenting Sponsor of this year’s conference was Toyota Financial Services. Junior sponsors include Comcast NBC Universal, Edison International, Planned Parenthood, and the University of Southern California. The event’s In-Kind sponsors included Hansen’s Soda, Jersey Mike’s Subs, and Starbucks.