Message from the USC Lambda Alumni Association


Pride as Liberation

Message from USC Lambda Board Member Conor Fetting-Smith MFA ’12

If you own a Google calendar or use TikTok, or recently stared at the face of Bob the Drag Queen on a T-shirt while shopping at Target, then you know that June is LGBTQ+ Pride month. Lest we forget, the reason we celebrate in June is rooted in the struggle for LGBTQ+ liberation, which coalesced one hot and humid evening in New York’s Greenwich Village in June 1969, when LGBTQ+ people fought back against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn.

Given our history—the challenges we have faced and still face today—it is indeed an achievement to be proud. For our LGBTQ+ community, just to live authentically is inspirational and a cause for celebration. Thankfully, USC provides a nurturing and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ students, alumni, faculty and staff to live out loud.

As QuASA (Queer and Ally Student Assembly) member and USC junior Hannah Gardiner said recently, “For so many queer college students, [USC’s LGBTQ+ Pride Celebration] is their introduction to Pride culture. Not everyone is so lucky to be welcomed by their families and hometown communities.”

The fact that USC has so many resources in place for LGBTQ+ students makes us all proud—and energizes us to create more opportunities for these students to thrive. One of USC Lambda’s core objectives is providing scholarship assistance to deserving LGBTQ+ and allied students. As a member of this year’s USC Lambda’s scholarship committee, I was impressed by the many young scholars who address LGBTQ+ subject matter in their academic work.

I also admire USC’s LGBTQ+ and allied students for exploring how LGBTQ+ issues affect the world, and for working towards a future of greater liberation for all.

When I think of Pride, I think of the generations of LGBTQ+ folks who laid the groundwork for our USC LGBTQ+ students to excel today. While producing the Apple TV+ series Visible: Out on Television, I met several LGBTQ+ leaders who did just that, including Black transgender activist Miss Major Griffing-Gracy, LGBTQ+ and social justice leader Allen Roskoff, legendary lesbian and gay studies scholar Karla Jay, and ACT UP trailblazer Peter Staley. These leaders and others found ways to convey the humanity of LGBTQ+ people and affect change. As a result of their efforts, LGBTQ+ people are more open and accepted than ever before. Yet for all our progress, many challenges remain. In fact, this year has seen more anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced into state legislatures than at any time in our nation’s history.

The truth is, we are not fully liberated. We may be proud, yet many of us still live in fear. Nevertheless, I remain hopeful, knowing that the next generation of LGBTQ+ young people understand this predicament and will eloquently communicate it to the rest of the world in the service of change.

This Pride month and every month, I am grateful for all the support that USC provides to its LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff. And I’m especially proud of all the work and outreach that USC Lambda and our LGBTQ+ Trojan Family are doing to make pride synonymous with true liberation.

Fight On!

Conor Fetting-Smith MFA ’12
Member, USC Lambda Board of Directors