OutCasting Gives Voice to LGBTQ Issues
Since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage and Caitlyn Jenner accepted Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year Award for her work as a “Trans Champion,” it has become more apparent with each passing day that our age is witnessing a cultural revolution. But the shift is not without its detractors as the debate over the intersections of gender, sexuality and society rages on.
Michigan State plans to join in on this conversation with the launch of a local bureau of the nationally syndicated OutCasting project, created in part with Impact89FM–WDBM, to begin recording next fall.
OutCasting is a public radio program about issues in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) community that reaches listeners on more than 45 Pacifica Radio Network affiliates across the country. The program aims to give LGBTQ students and allies the opportunity to share stories pertaining to issues that the LGBTQ community face, according those involved.
The program has previously welcomed guests such as Olympian Greg Louganis, Brian Healey of Athlete Ally, Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, writer/activist Dan Savage, transgender athlete Chris Mosier and more.
Marc Sophos (MSU-Telecom '83), executive director of Media for the Public Good, Inc. and OutCasting founder, said he saw a need in public radio for the fresh, young perspective on these topics. Given the rapid rate at which public opinion is changing, Sophos sees this as great opportunity for the younger generation to lead conversations about these issues on a professional, national platform.
Sophos said that LGBTQ youth is an audience largely ignored by mainstream media, and coverage of LGBTQ issues tends to be limited to marriage equality or the aftermath of a teen suicide.
“You don’t hear about what pressures existed in that young person’s life to force him or herself to this most ultimate act of self-destruction,” Sophos said. “You don’t hear their voice, you don’t hear their concern, you don’t hear their issues. What we’re trying to do with OutCasting is to provide journalism on LGBTQ topics as seen from the youth perspective, along with personal stories, so that people can understand.”
Sophos, who founded the first OutCasting bureau in Westchester County, N.Y., in 2011 with a group of local youth, said he is excited about the recent opening the MSU bureau. Sophos envisions that the program will eventually grow to include university bureaus across the U.S., as well as an increased production schedule.
Naina Rao, an MSU sophomore journalism student from Jakarta, Indonesia, said she is “really excited” to be involved in production for the MSU OutCasting bureau. Beyond the opportunity to be heard nationally, Rao is looking forward to the chance to learn more about the LGBTQ community through this experience.
“This really is something I’m still learning about,” Rao said. “I’m still learning about the culture and community. I’m very passionate about not only studying, but trying to help marginalized communities.”
“I’ve learned that LGBTQ is so much more than LGBTQ,” Rao continued. “There’s preferred pronouns, and what is gender fluid and what is queer? The desire and intention to learn more is really what drew me in.”
Some but not all of the OutCasting students are members of MSU’s LGBTQ community. Allies of the LGBTQ community are also welcome aboard, as well as students who are closeted. Steps can be taken to protect the identity of these students who do not wish to publicly share their sexuality or gender identity or expression.
OutCasting is open to every grade-level and major. Students involved will learn about program production, interviewing techniques, professional communication and more. If you’re interested in becoming part of the OutCasting team, should contact OutCasting through its web site (http://outcastingmedia.org) or its Facebook page (http://facebook.com/outcastingmedia).
More information about OutCasting can be found on http://mfpg.org/index.php/outcasting/bureaus/michigan-state-university.