“Models of Pride” is an educational conference held every year in Los Angeles. It brings together LGBTQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Allies) youth, ages 12-24, together from around the country to share an experience that can last a lifetime. It is a conference full of workshops, entertainment, and hundreds of youth with a common interest of equal rights and the belief that no one truly is alone. This year I was fortunate enough to participate in “Models of Pride 19”, hosted on the campus of the University of Southern California. Last year’s conference boasted a number of 600 youth; however this year brought a staggering 1,100 youth together at USC. Models of Pride 19 was nothing like had expected, but it did introduce me to a new side of the LGBTQA community which I had never experienced. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing, I will leave up to my readers.
I attended Models of Pride for two reasons; to meet friends whom I had known for quite some time, but had never met in person, and to hopefully learn new information and skills that would make me a more effective leader of the school’s GSA. One of those did not happen at all and I can assume it is obvious that it was the educational part. This was in no way intended. I came to the conference with my reading book for breaks and my special leather-bound notebook which I use for lectures. But alas, as soon as I saw my friends all thought of learning or using any cognitive processing vanished. There were three opportunities for workshops and instead of going to informational ones I attended a workshop on; the meaning of dreams, music therapy with drums, and a third which I would rather not disclose. Now, I want to make it clear that in no way do I regret enjoying my time with my friends. I just wish to convey to my readers that most often teenagers find it very difficult to even balance out work and pleasure.
One thing that persisted throughout the day of the conference were the constant questions/comments such as “Why are you so mature”, “Why is your voice so deep for a gay guy”, and “Why don’t you act like a gay guy”. The last one rather angered me at times. I found it offensive that the point of the conference was to end stereotypical remarks and prejudices and yet I was being scolded because I did not follow those stereotypes! Being gay to me simply means that you are attracted to members of the same sex and that is it. Being gay is just one aspect of my personality that to me is not any more significant than liking classical music. Just because the members of my choir all like classical music does not mean that we share anything else. If there is one thing I want my readers to take home with them it is the knowledge that the LGBTQA community is as diverse as the United Nations. But we come together and put our differences aside to celebrate the commonality that binds us all to each other as one family. Thank You.