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Faculty, staff and students of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology enjoyed presentations on LGBTQ+ history and activism as well as art displays, music and lunch during the school’s third annual Pride celebration and lunch on June 12, 2024.

Pinchas Cohen, dean of the USC Leonard Davis School, welcomed attendees and emphasized the school’s commitment to supporting LGBTQ+ community members.

“We celebrate our LGBTQ colleagues and stand beside them in every way,” he said.

Expert speakers

Derrick Morton, assistant professor of biological sciences and gerontology, spoke about the origins of Pride following the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and other milestones for LGBTQ+ advocacy, including the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973 and the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015. He noted that while these successes are important, there is still more to be done to support members of gender and sexual minority communities.

“Tolerance is just the bare minimum, and acceptance is the standard,” Morton said. “Celebration should be the norm.”

Loni Shibuyama, librarian with the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, spoke about the archives’ origin in 1952 with ONE Inc., the creator of ONE Magazine, the first nationally distributed magazine for gay and lesbian people. Today, ONE Archives is the largest repository of LGBTQ+ materials is the world, housing millions of items including periodicals, books, films, videos, audio recordings, photographs, artworks, organizational records, and personal papers.

These records show was life was like for famous activists and ordinary LGBTQ+ people alike, Shibuyama said. The archives also include records detailing the history of organizations advocating for older LGBTQ+ adults, including Senior Action in a Gay Environment and the Society for Senior Gay and Lesbian Citizens, she added.

Kiera Pollock, director of senior services at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, discussed the center’s role as the first LGBT nonprofit in the U.S. and its ownership and operation of Triangle Square Apartments, the nation’s first affordable housing development created with LGBTQ+ older adults in mind. A welcoming, affirming community is especially important for older members of gender and sexual minority groups, she explained, as they may not find the support they need in traditional senior communities and may even feel pressure to go back into the closet.

“Many older LGBTQ+ adults have no chosen family of support,” Pollock said. “LGBT-friendly long-term care is one of their biggest concerns.”

Music and artistic expression

Following the presentations, students, staff and faculty enjoyed lunch, a photobooth, art, and music in the Andrus Center courtyard.

The Sophie Davis Gallery hosted an intergenerational art exhibition featuring local artists from the LGBTQ community. Works on display included paintings by John LaRoche and Miguel Angel Reyes as well as ceramic art and live pottery demonstration by Nicole Reyes (no relation) of Cobalt & Clay.

Mariachi Arco-Iris de Los Angeles performed live music for attendees. The group is the world’s first LGBTQ+ mariachi (arcoiris is Spanish for rainbow) and was created as a haven for mariachi musicians who identify as LGBTQ+ to come together and perform traditional Mexican regional music, per the band’s website.

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