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Youth Seen builds self-expression skills for Colorado LGBTQ+ youth

Youth Seen builds self-expression skills for Colorado LGBTQ+ youth
Youth Seen builds self-expression skills for Colorado LGBTQ+ youth 02:18

Black Pride Colorado held its gala on Friday.

Haus Creative Director Michael Sullivan shows one of his creations. CBS

The event is a program from the organization Youth Seen which works to build the resilience of Black LGBTQ youth.

The courses in fashion design are among the tools used to help young people express themselves.

"This is an Ann Lowe jacket," said Michael Sullivan, a professional designer who also serves as activities coordinator for Youth Seen.

Sullivan's passion for fashion design goes all the way back to middle school.

Flying Solo NYFW September 2023
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09: A model walks the runway wearing Haus with 24/7 Anonym Jewelry and Winston Leather accessories during Flying Solo NYFW September 2023 at Canoe Studios on September 09, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Flying Solo) Brian Ach

"Since then I've been sketching and figuring out how to style clothing and I started teaching myself how to sow my junior year in high school," he said.

Sullivan's talents took his design company - Haus - to New York's Fashion Week.

"I think that it's important to have gender affirming clothing," said Sullivan. "For me, Haus has just always been a manifestation of a queer Black boy from Colorado Springs."

Via his role at Youth Seen, Sullivan is helping Black LGBTQ youth to develop skills in self-expression.

Kevin Davis for Youth Seen

"It allows us to really curate space for them to develop their own skills, to develop community, to develop a foundation that allows them to love themselves fully," he added.

Gabby Williams, a mother, has seen the benefits of Youth Seen programming - including mental health support -  on her own child.

"It was life-saving. They were suicidal and very depressed and this not only gave them a sense to live but then to thrive," said Williams.

"We all need to be loved right?" said Youth Seen Executive Director Dr. Tara Jae.

Jae says that in Colorado roughly half of all LGBTQ youth of color have contemplated suicide.

So Black Pride events will also pay homage to those lost.

"As much as this is a month about joy and happiness and the abundance of that and celebrating who you are, there's still a lot of grief and we do need to make room for that as well," added Jae.   

CBS News Colorado's Kennedy Cook is emceeing the 2024 Black Pride gala.

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