Fifty Trojans marched in the LA Pride Parade as part of a campus-wide initiative from the USC Marshall School of Business Gay and Lesbian Association (GALA) — which sponsored registration costs for the event — in partnership with the USC LGBT Resource Center.
Participants walked as part of the center’s contingent during the annual gathering, one of the largest of the nationwide pride events taking place the first weekend in June.
The LA parade on June 8, for which recording artist Demi Lovato served as grand marshall, drew around 400,000 attendees.
USC Marshall MBA candidate Joanne Rapadas, vice president of community and events for GALA, said their sponsorship of the parade was one of their first steps in partnering with the resource center and promoting the diversity of USC Marshall and the greater USC community.
USC consistently ranks as one of the top 25 universities in the country in terms of being LGBT-friendly for students in the Campus Pride Index.
“USC consistently ranks as one of the top 25 universities in the country in terms of being LGBT-friendly for students in the Campus Pride Index. It’s also considered the most resourceful school for LGBT students from Nerd Scholar,” Rapadas said. “We’ve made a lot of strides on campus in terms of supporting this population of students — in large part due to Vincent Vigil, previous USC LGBT resource director — but I think we do have potential to reach out to the greater LA community and make a big impact.”
She said that there were additional benefits to participating in the parade and other upcoming GALA events as either a member of the LGBT community or as a supportive ally. Large companies that foster a diverse corporate culture seek out potential hires who are accepting of people from other backgrounds.
Later this June, which is LGBT Pride month, the student association will be working with the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center to offer a leadership workshop at their homeless youth center in Hollywood.
Rapadas, who also earned her B.S. from USC Marshall in 2005 but did not come out until recently to family and friends, hopes to communicate to prospective students and those across the university that USC is an accepting community.
“There are people who are open to difficult conversations if people need to talk, and there are resources that people on campus aren’t aware of. Personally, I wanted to help out where I couldn’t before,” she said.