The "Reconstructing the Rainbow" conference starts Thursday at University of the Pacific.
The purpose of the conference is to build leadership among students, examine common issues of health and community building, and the political and legal battles still to fight.
UOP Director of Women's Resources Corrie Martin says much has changed for the gay community but much remains the same.
"My own experience, 5 and 10 years ago, I never would have imagined I could be married, I could be raising a child and yet all those things could happen in my life, at the same time, the challenges, the bias, the violence, all of those things are still very real," says Martin.
The keynote speaker will be the mother of Matthew Shepard - the 21-year old who was beaten and left to die because he was gay.
Steve Grand will perform. He's the first openly-gay male country singer, whose song "All American Boy" went viral.
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