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LGBT Students Speak Freely at uRap

  • LGBT Students Speak Freely at uRap
  • For LGBT students at USC, uRap offers a space for candid conversation.
  • Photo/Nathan Carter

Every Monday, groups of USC LGBT students gather for conversations on day-to-day topics, such as queers in sports, living in an LGBT-friendly neighborhood or raising children in LGBT households.

The talks are part of uRap, a confidential support group hosted by the LGBT Resource Center.

"USC will always have uRap because the need to have a safe place where students can come together to talk about these issues will always be there," said Vincent Vigil, director of the center. "Some of the students that go to uRap are out of the closet, some are not. It's a very diverse group, and that spectrum really helps create a sense of mentorship and bonding."

Typically consisting of 20 to 25 students per session, uRap is a place to get started in the LGBT community.

"I always tell students that are first looking to get involved with us to go to uRap because you won't find a better place to interact with other members in the community," Vigil said. "It's a great space to get to know other people, to speak freely and to listen."

Rachel Kohan, a senior biomedical engineering major, took Vigil's advice to heart. She has been going to uRap since she came to USC in 2008 and now serves as the group’s coordinator.

"I haven't found a better place than uRap where I feel like my voice is truly heard," she said. "We really are a big family. We listen to each other, we care about each other and, through our shared experiences, we have bonded together."

Junior Glenn Young, one of uRap's conversation facilitators, believes mutual respect and a sense of belonging hold the Monday night group together.

"It can be scary the first time you share your opinion in a setting like this, but whether you're a participant or a moderator, you learn that this is a safe place," he said. "This is a place where all opinions and where all individuals are cared for and respected. And it's a great chance to see people from all walks of life who come to this group with their own unique experiences."