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‘Christian Supremacist’ Pence on deck

A dutiful Trump servant? Or Dominionist working to impose religious law from the Oval Office?

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Vice President Mike Pence Vice President Mike Pence makes a second fundraising trip to Los Angeles this month. (Photo by Gage Skidmore; courtesy Flickr)

Next month, America faces the one-year anniversary of having elected Reality TV star Donald Trump as President of the United States. Pundits, journalists and everyday people worldwide are stunned and flummoxed as each day yields a shiny new illustration of how an amoral congenital liar, White Supremacist, emotionally autistic man-child is striving to “normalized” dictatorship, as all about him cower, fearing his hours-long tirades of unpredictable temperament or an unleashed Kraken-inspired primary challenger.

Donald Trump’s brand of preening narcissism and incompetence is a constant reminder of just how far we’ve fallen,” writes Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter in the November issue.

Thank God, some say, that “adult” Vice President Mike Pence is waiting in the wings, crouching on deck to be called up to save the ballgame, otherwise known as the Republic, should Trump be indicted, impeached, deposed, resign or any other myriad of fantasies Trump despisers dream about. But Pence—who identifies as “a Christian, a Conservative, and a Republican, in that order”—knows his place, serving as a submissive Christian good wife, supporting Trump adoringly, no matter what.

But whether the one-time presidential aspirant is biding his time or dutifully following an assignment, in reality, Pence is the tip of the spear for religious extremist Christian warriors who now occupy a place in the Oval Office. And while Trump may have initially disparaged having this less than macho-macho man as his running mate, he has since seen the light. White evangelicals voted for him overwhelmingly, by 80 percent or more, and have stuck by him come hell or high water. Plus—they make him feel special. Why else would a self-proclaimed germ-a-phobe let so many strangers lay hands on him as he bows his head over the Resolute desk, promising them more religious liberty.

“Many right-wing Christians have convinced themselves that he is a leader in the tradition of Cyrus the Great or King David who, while being deeply flawed, can be used as an instrument of God’s will,” writes Salon political writer Chauncey Devega. “Christian evangelicals’ rejection of empirical reality and their habituation into believing the absurd and the fantastical mates perfectly with the zealotry of the broader American right, which views politics as a form of religious fundamentalism.”

“Trump is a Trojan horse for a cabal of vicious zealots who have long craved an extremist Christian theocracy, and Pence is one of its most prized warriors,” Jeremy Scahill wrote right after the 2016 election in an article for The Intercept entitled “Mike Pence Will Be The Most Powerful Christian Supremacist in U.S. History.”

“Pence has been a reliable stalwart throughout his public life in the cause of Christian jihad — never wavering in his commitment to America-First militarism, criminalizing abortion, and utter hatred for gay people (unless they go into conversion therapy “to change their sexual behavior,” which Pence has suggested the government pay for),” Scahill writes.

As governor, Pence opposed legislation to add LGBT people to hate crime laws and tried to block federal HIV funding without a warning label opposing same sex relationships. Pence became infamous for signing Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law in 2015, which would have allowed discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The signing ceremony featuring a bevy of conservative religious leaders has become an iconic symbol of Pence’s penchant for all things anti-LGBT. After a massive backlash, including pressure from the NBA, which basketball-loving Hoosiers could not abide, Pence backed off a bit, but never renounced the ideology that guided his pen.

In 2000, while serving as a representative in the 107th Congress, Pence said: “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service because the presence of homosexuals in the ranks weakens unit cohesion.” No surprise, then, when Trump-whisperer Mike Pence was the exclamation point at the long sentence written by religious right buddies Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, and an assortment of other Christian Right politicos secretly writing policy, including the surprising directive to end open transgender service in the military. Pence made that call to Air Force One that got Trump to tweet out the new policy, according to a White House source familiar with the chain of events.

Missouri Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler and California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter got their inaccurate claims about the $1 billion cost of gender reassignment surgery from Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council. When they failed to get their legislation passed, they went to Freedom Caucus head Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who attends a weekly congressional bible study with Pence and other Christian Rightists, to get into Pence’s office. But Perkins and company had been pressing Trump since June 2016 about how the military is no place for “social experimentation,” according to the Washington Post, so he wasn’t averse to the idea.

“I think the military suspending transgender [people] from the military shows the influence of the religious right,” Heidi Beirich, a researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) told Newsweek.

“The SPLC has identified 45 organizations it classifies as anti-LGBT hate groups spread across the country, dedicated to waging what Focus on the Family founder [James] Dobson described as a ‘second civil war’ to put control of the U.S. government in the right hands—the hands of those who reject LGBT rights,” Newsweek reported last July.

Perkins confirmed this in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. Trump is “committed, along with the Republican Party platform, that the social engineering that has been in our military that the previous administration foisted upon the military would stop,” Perkins said after Trump announced the ban. “That’s what he’s doing. He’s only doing what he committed he would do.”
Though Trump may simply be swayed by the evangelical infatuation with him as their leader, Pence and the evangelicals he hangs with have a profoundly deeper commitment to their version of Christianity known as Dominionism. Though there are different strains of this spiritual warfare, it still aims at theocracy and religious freedom which strategists want to exploit as a weakness in constitutional democracy.
“The idea that Christians have a sacred duty to get involved in politics, the law and media, and otherwise bring their influence to bear in different public spheres is the animating principle behind the religious right,” Religious Right watcher Sarah Posner wrote in Salon in 2011 about the dominionist strategy. “If you attend a Values Voters Summit, the annual Washington confab hosted by the Family Research Council, you’ll hear speakers urging young people to go into media, or view Hollywood as a ‘mission field.’ That’s because they insist these institutions have been taken over by secularists who are causing the downfall of America with their anti-Christian beliefs.”
Another Religious Right watcher, Frederick Clarkson, a senior fellow at Political Research Associates, says the religious movement should be taken seriously.

“Dominionism is the theocratic idea that regardless of theological camp, means, or timetable, God has called conservative Christians to exercise dominion over society by taking control of political and cultural institutions. The term describes a broad tendency across a wide swath of American Christianity,” Clarkson wrote on politicalresearch.org in August 2016.
“There are untold numbers of dominionist and dominionism-influenced politicians and public officials at all levels of government and who even after leaving office, shape our political discourse. Roy Moore, the elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has been a rallying figure for dominionists of all stripes for the better part of two decades,” he continued, about the controversial populist who just won the Alabama Republican primary with help from “alt-right” leader, Steve Bannon.

“Others at the top of recent American political life have included Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich. Other prominent elected officials in the dominionist camp include Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-TX), Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), and Rep. Steve King (R-IA).”

Trump recently nominated Brownback, one of the most anti-LGBT politicians, as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, where he will spread the Pence policy about religious freedom and religious persecution around the globe. Indeed, even after he resigned, Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price, left behind a “draft strategic plan” replete with references to “faith” or “faith-based” organizations, according to a Politico report Oct. 3.
Pence often joined Price, Speaker Ryan, House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, for weekly Bible study sessions, the Associated Press reported last year. “Mike Pence is a House man. He cares about us and he will make sure that we are in the loop,” said Rep. Jack Carter, R-Texas, who also attended Bible study with Pence.

“The enemy, to them (dominionists), is secularism. They want a God-led government. That’s the only legitimate government,” Jeff Sharlet, author of two books on the radical religious right, including “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power,” told Democracy Now on July 21, 2016. “So when they speak of business, they’re speaking not of something separate from God, but they’re speaking of what, in Mike Pence’s circles, would be called biblical capitalism, the idea that this economic system is God-ordained.”

The talk is serious. “David Lane, a leading Christian Right electoral organizer, declared in a 2013 essay that religious war may be on the horizon,” Clarkson reported. “Meanwhile he has shifted the electoral emphasis of his Mississippi-based American Renewal Project. (The group hosts all-expenses paid policy briefings for clergy and their spouses, featuring top politicians like Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Gingrich, Huckabee, Cruz, and often David Barton. Republican presidential contender Donald Trump addressed one such event in August 2016.) They are currently recruiting and training clergy with a dominionist vision to run for office at all levels.

The weekly evangelical Christian Bible study is lead by Ralph Drollinger, a former University of California, Los Angeles, basketball star who lead a similar group in the Sacramento Capitol. “Homosexuality is a sin,” and an “abomination in the eyes of God,” he told Sacramento News and Review in 2005 about his group, Capitol Ministries.

Democratic California Senator Liz Figueroa gave her review of the experience after Drollinger said women who do not stay home with their children are sinful. She complained that he “uses God’s word for the purpose of divisiveness and political stances.”

“Some of us Democrats and women innocently thought that, hey, this is a good way to start our week,” said Figueroa. “And then you realize, wait, this is a conservative Republican man who uses Scripture for his purposes.”

Figueroa was among the protesters a year ago.

The Capitol Ministries leader has only good things to say about the vice president. “Mike Pence has uncompromising biblical tenacity and he has a loving tone about him that’s not just a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal,” Drollinger told CBN more recently.

Pence may dream of being President, but he, too, may become entangled in the probe into Russian hacking into the 2016 elections. As Scahill pointed out in his investigation into Pence the Christian Supremacist, Pence is very close with anti-LGBT Christian Rightist and Blackwater founder Erik Prince. “The Prince family’s support for Pence, and the Christian supremacist movement he represents, has deep roots,” writes Scahill.

Some of those roots may be pulled out by Special Counsel Bob Mueller who will surely look into the Washington Post report about an anonymous letter the paper received last December suggesting that Prince may have served as part of the Trump transition team, which Pence headed, and acted as Trump’s representative in a meeting with a Russian official.

Look out for a clash of dominions.

 

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Los Angeles

LA Times: LAPD execute search warrants in racist audio leak probe

It is unclear how the recordings were made. Recording conversations without a person’s consent is illegal in California, with rare exceptions

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LAPD Chief Michel Moore being interviewed by KTLA 5 in October (Photo Credit: LAPD Public Affairs/Facebook)

LOS ANGELES – Several law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times Tuesday that Los Angeles Police Department detectives have served several search warrants as they attempt to find out who recorded a meeting filled with racist and offensive comments among three L.A. City Council members and a powerful labor leader.

The Times reported that the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe is ongoing, did not identify the specific targets. But they said the department obtained warrants for several social media accounts, including the Reddit account that first posted the audio leak.

This past October, LAPD Chief Michel Moore announced in a press briefing that detectives were investigating the source of the leaked racist recordings that thrust City Hall into a harsh national spotlight.

“The department has initiated a criminal investigation into the allegation of eavesdropping into the L.A. Fed meeting involving then-Councilperson Nury Martinez, Councilmember Gil Cedillo and Councilmember Kevin de León and the Fed president Mr. [ Ron] Herrera,” Moore said, referring to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

The recordings took place at the offices of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which has called the leak “illegal” and vowed to have those involved prosecuted. The union attempted to block the Los Angeles Times from publishing details of the recordings, saying they were obtained illegally. The Times refused to halt publication.

It is unclear how the recordings were made. Recording conversations without a person’s consent is illegal in California, with rare exceptions.

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Los Angeles

Trans remembrance vigil held at LA LGBT Center

“We refuse to let violence rob us of the possibility to gather, to love each other, and to dream together in solidarity”

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LA Blade Photo by Simha Haddad

HOLLYWOOD – A Trans Remembrance Vigil was held at the Los Angeles LGBT Center on Monday, November 21st.

Candles and white, pink, and lavender flowers mounted on tiers draped by a trans flag adorned the center stage. A large monitor served as the focal point of the evening above the memorial display. 

The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles started the ceremony with an acapella performance. Following the song of hope and redemption, opening remarks were given at the pulpit by the Anti-violence project manager for the LGBT center, Mariana Morroquin, and representatives from the Trans Wellness Center, Bienstar Human Services, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Friends Community Center, APAIT, and [email protected] 

Trans Chorus of Los Angeles (LA Blade Photo by Simha Haddad)

“I think it is very important to acknowledge our partners,” said Morroquin, somberly addressing the seated audience of about one hundred and fifty. “We know that hate is real. A lot of us have seen hate pretty close. We are very grateful to have you. We open our arms to receive your love and your support. The way we support each other is by providing jobs, providing spaces for us, and providing opportunities. Because hate is out there. We need this space. We need to welcome everyone. I want you to keep that in your heart. And tomorrow, when we get back to work, let us open our hearts and our minds. Don’t make decisions for us. Invite us to those tables. We know what we need. We’ve been doing this forever. We are going to keep fighting because this is what we do.” 

She then added, “We refuse to let violence rob us of the possibility to gather, to love each other, and to dream together in solidarity. We gather because we must remember what is worth fighting for. For now, we commemorate. We tell the stories of the ones we lost. For tonight, that will be enough.” 

One by one, members of the audience approached the pulpit to read the names and stories of a multitude of trans people whose deaths were the tragic result of hate crimes. The photos, names, and ages of the victims were displayed on the center-stage monitor. 

“My name is Nikai David,” said one speaker, the photo of a pale, curly-haired young lady displayed behind them. “I am a model and social media influencer who aspired one day to own my own clothing boutique. I had just celebrated my birthday a week before I was shot in Oakland California, on December 4th, 202. I was thirty-three years old.” 

Stories of these deaths included shootings by assailants, police, and family members, brutal beatings, and stabbings. The bodies of these victims were found in their homes, in garbage cans, and on streets where they were left, still dying, among other locations. 

The final name read was Daniel David Aston, who died in the recent Club Q mass shooting.  This year, TDOR came on the heels of the senseless massacre in Colorado Springs that left five members of the LGBTQ+ community dead and 25 injured. 

Reverend Valerie Spencer gave an impassioned closing speech, first inviting the audience to take several deep breaths in unison. 

Reverend Valerie Spencer (LA Blade Photo by Simha Haddad)

“We will mourn our family, our siblings,” said Reverend Spencer,  “but we are not having our primary focus on the violent conclusion of their life. We are choosing to see them and know them and celebrate them in the full context of their living. For they were fierce and powerful people.”

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Los Angeles

Karen Bass speaks to Los Angeles for first time as mayor-elect

With her daughter at her side, the mayor-elect spoke of her background & love for the city of LA She addressed issues including homelessness

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Karen Bass speaks to LA for the 1st time as mayor-elect (Screenshot/YouTube KABC 7)

LOS ANGELES – Rep. Karen Bass, (D-Calif.) addressed the City of Los Angeles for the first time as mayor-elect since she was declared winner Wednesday and her opponent billionaire real estate magnate Rick Caruso conceded in a press conference.

With her daughter at her side, the mayor-elect spoke of her background and love for the city of Los Angeles. She addressed issues including homelessness and economic hardship promising that her administration would work hard to get things done for the city.

Her primary focus she said when she takes office in December is to declare a state of emergency and execute actions on the homeless crisis that has enveloped Los Angeles.

KABC 7: Karen Bass to address city of Los Angeles for the 1st time as mayor-elect:

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Los Angeles

Beloved North Hollywood bookstore suffers arson attack

The Iliad Bookshop has been a fixture in North Hollywood for 35 years, the fire is currently under investigation by LAFD arson investigators

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The Iliad Bookshop/Instagram

LOS ANGELES – The Iliad Bookshop, located 5400 Cahuenga at the corner of Cahuenga and Chandler Blvds. in North Hollywood, was the target of an alleged arson attack at around 11 p.m. this past Thursday evening.

LA Fire firefighters responded to the blaze in front of the rear entrance which was fully engulfed after an unknown person or persons stacked up books and items left out by the store.

In interviews with KCBS2 LA, KABC7, and other media outlets, the bookshop’s owner Daniel Weinstein, said that a flyer, which he categorised as “terroristic,” was left at the scene of the blaze. The damage to the building was primarily to the entrance area with noticeable scorch marks, there was smoke damage inside as well. Weinstein added that the store’s iconic two live-in cats, Zeus and Apollo, were not harmed.

There was no information as to the extent of the damages to the store’s inventory.

In a GoFundMe started by the bookshop to repair and recover from the attack, Weinstein wrote:

“We were very lucky: neighbors saw the flames and flagged down a passing firetruck; had the firefighters arrived mere moments later, the entire store would probably have gone up. As it is, we suffered heavy damage to the main entry. The doors (which are metal) are still functional, but will need to be either replaced or fixed. We lost lighting fixtures, signage, and wood framing; we also suffered damage to the mural on the right side of the doors. Smoke filled the interior of the store, but we were able to rescue our two cats Zeus and Apollo and we’re hopeful that the damage to the books and fixtures is minimal.

We have high insurance deductibles so we need to cover the cost of replacing the exterior lights, sign, and trim, and touching up the mural. We expect the funds we’re looking for to be divided between repair costs and a mural artist.”

The Iliad Bookshop has been a fixture in the North Hollywood community for over 35 years. In a March 2019 profile article by Los Angeleno magazine writer Augustus Britton, the shoppe was described as “a cozy mix of librarial reverence and old lore magic. The walls are lined with literary memorabilia, most notably art by R. Crumb and posters of Bukowski alongside author obituaries from days past. An aged photograph showing Weinstein drowning in a pile of hardcovers hangs on the wall.”

Britton goes on to say: “Weinstein’s 10 employees are awesome. There are no better poetic words to describe them. One could say they all look like fictional characters. Grateful Dead fans, Philip K. Dick spies or Stendhal savants eating Chinese food at the counter while the shop’s spunky cats Zeus and Apollo — more nods to Greek mythology — climb over their shoulders.”

The fire is currently under investigation by LAFD arson investigators.

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Los Angeles

LAPD asking for public’s help finding missing teen in West LA

On Sunday, the LAPD issued a brief statement: “Andrew was located and reunited with his family.”

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UPDATED: Monday Nov. 7, 2022 from KABC 7.

A Los Angeles teen who went missing from his home on Halloween night has now returned safely and been reunited with his family, police said Sunday.

On Sunday, the LAPD issued a brief statement: “Andrew was located and reunited with his family.”

Andrew’s mother Anna posted on Facebook that Andrew came home Saturday. She said her son left home voluntarily because he was struggling with some mental-health issues. He then decided to come home on his own volition after about five days of sleeping on the street.

She expressed thanks to the public for providing support and said Andrew saw some of the missing-person flyers “and knows now that he is cared about by so many people.”

LOS ANGELES – The family of 18-year-old Andrew Jason Wright and the Los Angeles Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit are asking for the public’s help in locating him. Wright, an 18-year-old high-school senior, was last seen Monday around 6 p.m. near the 1700 block of Federal Avenue in West Los Angeles.

Wright is described as an 18-year-old male Asian with brown hair and brown eyes. He stands 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs approximately 190 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black coat, maroon vest, gray pants, and black leather shoes.

His mother told KABC Eyewitness news that Wright has recently been suffering from depression and is extremely worried.

“He went on a walk around 6 p.m.” Anna Wright said. “He was supposed to go trick-or-treating with his little brother and sister at 7. And he never came back.”

Andrew’s father set up a search party where volunteers have been going around looking for him and passing out flyers.

If you have seen, or have any information regarding the whereabouts of Andrew Jason Wright, please contact Los Angeles Police Department, Missing Persons Unit, at (213) 996-1800.

During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).

Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most Keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

From KABC 7:

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Los Angeles

Trixie Mattel & LGBTQ youth celebrate 30th annual Models of Pride

The sponsor of this year’s Models of Pride was Glamazon L.A.—Amazon’s LGBTQ+ Affinity Group along with the Los Angeles City College

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Trixie Mattel accepts Model of Pride Leadership Award from LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner (Photo Credit: LA LGBT Center)

LOS ANGELES — Amazon’s LGBTQ+ Affinity Group, Glamazon L.A., celebrated the 30th anniversary Models of Pride youth conference which drew hundreds of LGBTQ+ young people and allies—and special award-winner Trixie Mattel—to Los Angeles City College this past Saturday.

Attendees connected with peers, learned from role models, and got to celebrate with live performances and festivities. Parents and professionals had opportunities to learn from one another, build community, and gain tools to support the LGBTQ+ young people in their lives. 

The day’s highlights included drag queen, musician, entrepreneur, and television phenomenon Trixie Mattel accepting the first-ever Model of Pride Leadership Award.

“Right now, we are witnessing drag becoming weaponized by bad actors on the far right. They are banning Drag Queen Story Hours and trying to paint drag queens as enemies of family values,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner said in his opening remarks. “This is a disturbing trend happening across America. What we at the Los Angeles LGBT Center know, and what Trixie Mattel’s prolific career embodies, is that drag is powerful. It is a pathway to unlocking new potential for freeing yourselves of the shackles of gender norms and for embracing the creativity that is waiting to be unleashed inside each and every one of you.”

“I didn’t grow up with much representation on television. At most, gay people on TV were allowed to be the snippy gay assistant or the funny makeup artist or, at best, the sexually ambiguous villain,” Mattel said in her acceptance speech. “I think the reason drag is so inspiring is because queer people are told to minimize everything. We’re told to be the friend or the supporting character. Drag makes us think, what if I’m the main character? I want you guys to know that you are all the main character.”

The Rolf/Uribe Models of Pride Leadership Award, given annually to youth and adults who have been models of pride to the LGBTQ community, was awarded to youth activist Alex Flores and PFLAG Los Angeles Vice President Steve Krantz.

The event was attended by more than 500 youth—including more middle schoolers and younger attendees than any previous Models of Pride—as well as more than 200 parents and professionals. Youth, parents, and professionals attended 100 workshops, with the offerings for youth ranging from “Rights of Youth in CA Public Schools” to “Drag Queen Story Hour.” Adult workshops ranged from “When Your Kid Transitions” to “Creating Affirming Spaces for Queer & Trans Elementary-Age Children.”

Entertainment highlights included performances by the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, Gay Freedom Band of Los Angeles, The Voice finalist Hailey Mia, Mayhem Miller of RuPaul’s Drag Race, DJ Brynn Taylor, and Mike Xavier. Attendees also enjoyed a continental breakfast, a catered backyard BBQ lunch, and a dessert extravaganza.


Models of Pride is the world’s largest free conference for LGBTQ+ youth and their allies, filled with life-enriching workshops, entertainment, resources, and more to help attendees to build confidence and self-esteem while developing valuable life skills. The conference also offers family members, educators, professionals, and all other LGBTQ+ supporters the opportunity to attend the Parents and Professionals Institute at Models of Pride, which offers tailored workshops, a resource fair and celebratory reception.

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