For Christian Santana, Friday’s inaugural USC Pridefest was more than just another festival held in the McCarthy Quad.
“I’m pretty open about my sexuality, but it took a long time to get here,” said Santana, a senior majoring in psychology who attended the event. “And as someone who was once in that position where you may not feel 100 percent comfortable, even just walking by something like this, it’s empowering.”
USC Pridefest brought color and vibrance to McCarthy Quad, supplying students with free crêpes from Crêpes Bonaparte, ice cream sandwiches from a Coolhaus food truck and a wide array of activities of expression. A large rainbow flag was spread across the grass, and attendees sported miniature flags on their hats and backpacks.
Hal Pan, the assistant director of the USC Queer and Ally Student Assembly, helped organize this USG and QuASA co-sponsored event.
“It’s a very common practice in queer communities to have a Pridefest, but those usually happen in the summer when people are away from school and perhaps back in communities where they’re not as out and they can’t have as many friends to celebrate with,” said Pan, a sophomore majoring in arts, technology and the business of innovation. “So we wanted to provide them with an opportunity to just celebrate identity and have that Pridefest experience here on campus.”
Pridefest also featured bounce houses and over a dozen tables of arts and crafts activities, including button-making, portrait-drawing, temporary tattoos and wax creations by USC Lambda LGBT Alumni Association. The festival also set up information booths from LGBTQ student groups on campus, such as the LGBT Resource Center, Queer People of Color and First-Year Advocacy Board.
“We’re very much in the feminist community and the LGBTQA community,” said Sara Noe, who was running a booth for the online clothing store Kidd Bell. “We’re all about equality.”
Kidd Bell sells shirts, pins, hats and condoms with strong messages of feminism and equality.
Another addition to Pridefest was an appearance by Jeffrey Liang, a health educator at Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team. At the event, Liang helped facilitate free HIV testing for students. According to Liang, QuASA reached out to APAIT to bring their van onto campus, where testing occured.
“A lot of people don’t really have access to HIV testing, so the more we can do to provide access to that, to educate, to work on eradicating the stigma that is around HIV testing and really promote that no matter what your status is, your status is sexy and taking care of yourself is the most sexy thing you can do,” Liang said.
To Pan, an event like USC Pridefest serves as a celebration of identities not only on campus, but also throughout the Los Angeles community.
“Pridefest [is] a moment of visibility, and it’s important … to savor the good moments and see how far we’ve come, and also perhaps mingle, find new people and see the queer community on campus come out and be strong,” Pan said.