USC kicks off a monthlong celebration of LGBTQ+ pride on June 1 with a virtual event themed “The Power of Community.”
USC President Carol L. Folt will join with students, faculty and staff members for the noon celebration, in which participants will share what pride means to them and more.
Speakers will also reflect on ways queer and trans communities empower and inspire, who their role models are, and what it means to be celebrating Pride in person again after experiencing COVID-19 shutdowns during the past two years.
“For so many queer college students, this is their introduction to Pride culture,” said USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences junior Hannah Gardiner of QuASA (Queer and Ally Student Assembly), the umbrella organization for queer student groups at USC.
“Not everyone is so lucky to be welcomed by their families and hometown communities,” Gardiner said. “By creating space for LGBTQ+ staff, students and faculty, USC Pride invites everyone — especially those who have never experienced the joy of queer pride — to celebrate themselves in a newly empowering way.”
USC Pride Month celebration comes amid swell of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation
Speakers will also reflect on some of the struggles queer and trans people still face and what change they would still like to see. This year’s pride celebrations come amid a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ bills being proposed and laws being passed around the country.
“We are in a time in our country right now where LGBTQ+ rights and protections are under attack,” said Megan van der Toorn, student equity and inclusion programs manager for USC’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Plus Student Center. “To be able to uplift and celebrate our communities is powerful and important. Folks who are earlier in their journey or are still finding themselves can see that they are not alone.”
Shortly before Wednesday’s virtual event, the Progress Pride Flag will be raised in front of Keck Hospital of USC in an 11:45 a.m. ceremony.
The Progress Pride Flag adds a five-colored chevron to the classic Rainbow Flag, representing marginalized LGBTQ+ communities of color, along with the colors of the Transgender Pride Flag.
“This will be the first time that a pride flag has flown in front of the hospital for the entire month of June,” explained Lindsey Morrison, co-chair of Keck Pride, the LGBTQ+ employee resource group that spans Keck Medicine of USC and the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
The flag ceremony will be hosted by Rodney Hanners, president and CEO of the USC Health System and Keck Medicine CEO, and Keck School of Medicine Dean Carolyn C. Melzer.
USC to be represented in L.A. Pride event
Keck Pride, which focuses on creating a welcoming, inclusive environment for faculty, staff members and patients, will also participate in 52nd annual L.A. Pride Parade in Hollywood on June 12.
“The importance of that visibility and coming together is so powerful especially since we’ve been in a pandemic for more than two years now and haven’t been able to have those venues of connectiveness,” Morrison said. “This year in particular feels like it has even more importance around finding our joy together.”
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is celebrated each June in honor of the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Manhattan, a tipping point for the gay liberation movement in the United States.