QuASA to publish OUTlist next week

Queer and Ally Student Assembly co-Director Varsha Sivaram speaks at the Solidarity Rally in September. Sivaram said the annual OUTlist is a way to commemorate Coming Out Month. (Emily Smith)

Early next week, the Queer and Ally Student Assembly will publish its annual OUTlist, a collection of University-affiliated names and organizations intended to show support for the queer community on campus.

The list received 672 signatures this year throughout the month of October, including student organizations Asian Pacific American Student Assembly, Undergraduate Student Government, El Centro Chicano and Daily Trojan.

“The OUTlist is a platform where transfers, students, faculty and staff can show their support and solidarity toward students of the queer community,” Undergraduate Student Government co-Chief Diversity Officer Milton Dimas said.

The OUTlist, according to the LGBT Resource Center website, is inspired by a 1990 publication of 50 signatures from students who pledged to end homophobia and accept all people on campus. Since then, the OUTlist has only grown and gained support at USC.

“We do it in commemoration of Coming Out Month because it’s a sensitive time for a lot of queer folks,” QuASA co-Director Varsha Sivaram said.

Sivaram said an informal version of the OUTlist — a whiteboard people were encouraged to sign — was put up at QuASA events this year to help spread awareness for the actual online document.

Another addition to the OUTlist, according to Sivaram, was a quote section where people could state why they had signed the document.

One particular quote that stood out to her expressed that support is fundamental to queer individuals who are still coming out.

“It’s the notion [that] if I had had someone who was publicly supportive of the queer community or was secure in their queerness who came out and said it was okay for me when I was coming out, that would have been enormously helpful,” Sivaram said.

The OUTlist demonstrates USC’s commitment to supporting the queer community on campus, Dimas said.

“It’s important to continue to [have the OUTlist] because students who identify as queer should feel welcomed, considering the fact that we [are a] Trojan Family,” Dimas said.

Erin Cooney, co-director of QuASA, said that it is crucial to give allies a chance to declare their support and the LGBTQ community an opportunity to see its supporters.

Sivaram emphasized that the OUTlist provides LGBTQ members with the reassurance that they are not alone without pressuring them to come out.

“I think it’s a tangible show of support for folks,” Sivaram said. “It cultivates the notion that there’s a supportive environment for them at USC.”

Chris Bradley, a senior majoring in business administration and accounting, signed to OUTlist. He said the list allows queer individuals a chance to be comfortable with their identities, regardless of whether they are out or not.

“The biggest thing for me was to break the stereotype and to have people be open with themselves,” Bradley said. “There’s still a couple kids at USC who haven’t come out, which is surprising considering this is a relatively friendly campus. It goes to show that even in 2018 there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Bradley said the OUTlist provides a source of pride for queer students.

“It’s a mark of progress we’ve made,” Bradley said. “[The OUTlist] goes to show how confident [we are] and how far we’ve come. I feel very strongly that we are not going to go back.”

Further plans to expand the OUTlist include coordinating an event geared toward garnering more signatures.

“Our mission during Coming Out Month … is giving people safe spaces in order to express themselves,” Cooney said. “Even within the queer community people have such different identities and experiences that it is significant to give people a place or opportunity to have those conversations.”