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LGBTQ community focuses on safety, acceptance

USC students celebrate National Coming Out Day. (Photo/Joel Zink)

The LGBT Resource Center, the Queer & Ally Student Assembly (QuASA) and the Rainbow Floor teamed up to bring nearly 30 events to campus in celebration of National Coming Out Month. Talks and tours, mixers and meetings led to National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11.

“USC is a safe space for LGBT students, and National Coming Out Day is a way to highlight that,” said Vincent Vigil, director of the LGBT Resource Center. “This month, we’re highlighting our community, and we want to make certain that every one feels safe and accepted to be who they are here at USC.”

The day’s festivities — including balloon artists, dance performances, music and a door for people to walk through symbolizing their experiences of coming out — were held next to Tommy Trojan.

And the Oct. 11 edition of Daily Trojan published the annual “Out List,” with a record 1,100 signatures from people who identify with or support the LGBT and queer community.

This month’s events opened with the QuASA Lecture Series featuring Marsha Aizumi, an author and advocate for the LGBT community. She embraced the cause because of the bullying her son, who was born female but lives as a man, endured throughout high school.

Every Sunday this month, QuASA is hosting daylong workshops, guest speakers and film screenings as part of the Empowerment Series, an intercollegiate initiative meant to bring people of all identities together.

“The focus is educating people about the history of oppression in the LGBT community and also using our own stories and tools to empower ourselves in our communities,” said Mellissa Linton, the group’s executive director.

The LGBT Resource Center has launched a virtual coming out campaign, using social media as an outlet for people to get involved. The center asked allies to take pictures of themselves holding signs that read, “I am an ally,” and then upload the photos to Facebook.

The center sponsored several events throughout the month, including free HIV testing in McCarthy Quad, the University Rap confidential discussion group and a Models of Pride youth conference featuring workshops, celebrity guests and entertainment for students, parents and educators.

The Rainbow Floor, a special interest residential community in Century Apartments for LGBTQ students and allies, has held several events and is inviting people to check out their community.

“The Rainbow Floor is for anyone who wants to come and live in a space where people have a lot in common and have that safe feeling when they come home,” said Kevin Steen, the Rainbow Floor’s resident assistant. “They don’t have to worry about their roommates bothering them about their identities or wondering if there’s going to be an awkwardness with people who don’t understand or accept their identities.”

Linton added: “Our goal in October is to reach out to every person in the community so they can have a space where they can really celebrate themselves.”

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