Quist shares LGBT history straight from app stores

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Within the past four months, a new mobile application for phones and tablets emerged into society. The app icon is black with a circle created with six different colors and the word “Quist” in the center in white letters. To those who have not seen the app before, it may be unclear what the icon leads to.

Quist, formed by combining the words queer and history, displays at least one daily event from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history.

The app is meant to illustrate how far the LGBT community has come over time. It includes information about the way LGBT affiliates have been treated and their reactions, as well as the support the community has gained from their allies or how others have halted progress. The app also highlights historical international LGBT community events.

“History has always been a good tool to learn from,” said Rebekah Chmura, senior in architecture. “Human sexuality has always been a major part of society and culture. This app could spread awareness of that [LGBT] community.”

App creator, Sarah Prager, was prompted to raise the funding and put in hundreds of hours to create the application when she and her wife moved from Boston, Mass., where they were legally married, to Maryland.

“I had the idea [for the app] in my head for a couple of years,” Prager said via a phone interview with The Collegian. “I thought I would enjoy it, and other people would enjoy it.”

The couple resided in Maryland during the Nov. 2012 ballot in that state, in which all voters were asked if the state should legalize same-sex marriage. Nearly 30 states had the same ballot question years prior and all had ended with a “no” vote from the majority. Four states, including Maryland, passed laws calling for marriage equality in 2012.

“I was inspired by the history in the making and knew other people probably could relate,” Prager said.

Daniel Foster, senior in education in English, said he agreed that the governmental changes in regards to LGBT rights were helpful to all who affiliate with the community. He also said as current legislators are coming out later in life, it can be motivating to younger people.

“People will not want to wait their entire life to come out and then they see these powerful people coming out and may wonder, why can’t I do that?” Foster said.

Foster said, due to his own experiences coming out in a rural Nebraska community, he can understand the importance of associating oneself with other people who are LGBT affiliated.

“I was tired of lying to myself,” Foster said. “There were a lot of rumors about me, and if people would ask [if I was gay], I would say I was straight; maybe I tried to convince myself I was. My junior year, I just stopped denying I was gay and in a small town when you tell one person, everyone knows.”

Before coming out, Foster said he researched celebrities who had announced they were gay. When Foster came out he said that it was not as difficult for him as it was for others.

“I broke the stereotype [of gay people] for the people in my town,” Foster said.

Foster was involved in various extracurricular activities in high school, including sports, and was recruited as a walk-on baseball player at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.

Foster thought he was the only gay person in his town, but after coming out he met others within his community. One of the goals of Quist is for people who affiliate LGBT to understand that many have also strived for acceptance from others.

“I feel like students who are in conservative regions can find a sense of community from LGBT icons of the past,” Prager said. “If you do not know anyone gay where you live, it is comforting to know there are people in every state and every country and every year and decade and century that have gone through the same things. Things are not just getting better over one person’s lifetime, but over centuries. These struggles have been shared.”

Prager and Foster both said that since coming out, they’ve seen changes with the stigma associated with those who are LGBT affiliated.

“Legislatures with families on both sides are supporting gays rights, even if they are not gay,” Foster said. “Seeing these things happen give people these notions that it is okay to accept gays too. Also, conservative no longer goes hand-in-hand with anti-gay.”

Quist has partnered with the It Gets Better Project to help celebrate LGBT History Month in October. In addition, The Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention with LBGT youths, social media channels will be sharing historical facts from Quist throughout the month.

“Sometimes people growing up in rural communities just have to get through it,” Foster said. “Now that I am at K-State, I am no longer the token gay. The sheer size of K-State changed the dynamics because I am no longer the ‘only gay’ that people know, like it was in my hometown.”

If individuals do not have a phone or tablet that can download the app., they can go to quistapp.com and find other free online sources including references to other webpages. Anyone can gain information this way, so long as they have access to a computer.

If a person is wanting a less trackable way to find out about LGBT history, they should attempt to gain access to the free app.

“One of the unique things about an app is that the information searched through it will not show up in web history,” Prager said.

This could be valuable to students who were like Foster, when they are preparing or considering coming out.

“Even today, when I use the word ‘gay’ to search something I take a double take of those around me,” Foster said. “It can still be an issue to some, even if I am just searching gay men’s fashion.”

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