Live Out Loud Charity ( LOLC ) hosted its 10th Annual International Chicago Fashion Show last month, and their message was loud and clear.
"Live Out Loud Charity is a positive outlet for individuals who do not have that family support or don't have a support at all," said organization founder Sherrie Gearheart. "We believe in creating support systems to help people value themselves."
The room featured nearly 1,000 people and was standing-room-only that night. It was an elegant evening at the Palmer House Hilton, and everyone in attendance was there not only to support fashion but learn more about suicide prevention and its impact on Chicago communities.
LOLC is a non-profit organization and has been around since 2010. The mission of the organization is to save lives through awareness and education. The organization trains volunteers as spokespersons and sometimes even models.
With 23 designers from all over the world, including India and Ireland, the culture in the room for the recent event spoke for itself. The fashion show featured an array of cultural vibes ranging from a Lion King tribute to African fashion to kimono-wearing models was a tribute to Japanese culture and fashion. The idea behind the theme was to celebrate all cultures and for people to be proud of their identities.
"People were able to come to the show and be who they are and express themselves in a safe environment," said Gearheart. "We don't judge anybody, and people get to build their confidence on the runway."
Danielle T. Carrol, Live Out Loud Charities Board Member, said that although the event was a fashion show, fashion was secondary that night.
"The show is about the awareness," Carrol told Windy City Times. "There were over 1,000 people in the audience who learned how to save a life. Live Out Loud Charity embraces the LGBTQ community with an understanding that everyone deserves to be themselves and be accepted. Not a single person should want to take their own lives because other people can't accept who they are. This is why the message of suicide prevention is so important and the idea of coupling this message with fashion makes the message stronger and universal, especially for the LGBTQ community.
"There were amazing transgender models, models of different colors, different sizes, and ages. Many of the models from the show were told they could never model.
"I've seen the transformation of so many models. That makes me so happy. People who once themselves didn't want to live, now have the passion to help others live."