(Manila Luzon. Photo by: DVSROSS, via Wikimedia Commons)
This Saturday and Sunday, November 14–15, the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s 28th annual Models of Pride conference for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth (LGBTQ) and their allies 24 years and under is poised to be “FIERCE, FABULOUS, FREE”—a reference to this year’s theme—with a lineup of incredible and inspiring LGBTQ celebrities and influencers: Emmy award-winning writer, creator, producer, and actor Lena Waithe; RuPaul’s Drag Race superstar Manila Luzon; YouTube personality MacDoesIt; America’s Got Talent semifinalist Celina Graves; American Idol finalist Rayvon Owen; music artist and songwriter Tish Hyman; and more.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Models of Pride will be streamed live worldwide over the two days with life-enriching programming designed to help young people build confidence and self-esteem and develop valuable life skills. Organized by the Center’s Youth Development program, the schedule includes more than two dozen workshops and presentations culminating with the always-anticipated Entertainment Hour. Actress, host, and singer Roxy Wood serves as this year’s Entertainment Hour emcee with performances by surreal world performer Matthew “Poki” McCorkle; comedian and drag performer Greasy Bouffanti; American Idol Season 14 finalist Rayvon Owen; multitalented instrumentalist and hip-hop artist Mike Xavier; music artist and songwriter Tish Hyman; and book author, astrologer and psychic medium, and popular podcast host Jessica Lanyadoo.
Models of Pride begins with an electrifying Opening Session hosted by award-winning YouTube personality MacDoesIt with a performance by America’s Got Talent Season 15 semifinalist Celina Graves and special appearances by Minneapolis City Councilmember Andrea Jenkins; activist and actress Blossom C. Brown; Pulse Nightclub survivor and activist Brandon Wolf; and New York-based actor, photographer, and writer Shani Hadjian.
Some of the workshop topics offered this year include LGBTQ identity (Redefining Masculinities, Bi Braveheart: The Highs and Lows of Coming Out to Self and Others); self-esteem (Disarming the Inner Bully,The Gender Abolition of Fatness); and dating and relationships (Peer Sex Ed for All, Asexuality 101). Amazon Studios will present a panel discussion, moderated by Manila Luzon, on Queer Leadership in Entertainment with panelists Lena Waithe, Amazon Studios Co-Head of Television Vernon Sanders, and playwright Matthew López, who will share their unique insights and perspectives about working in film and television and how being LGBTQ+ has played a role in their lives and careers.
In addition to the youth-only portions of the conference, parents, caregivers, educators, social service providers, and other youth-serving professionals are offered free online workshops tailored to their roles and interests to better serve LGBTQ youth. Known as the Parent & Professional Institute, this programming for adults will feature a dozen unique workshops covering topics ranging from faith and family to supporting transgender youth. Some workshops will be offered entirely in Spanish.