Texas A&M’s LGBTQ+ Pride Center will host the Lavender Graduation Ceremony for the sixth year to affirm and celebrate the accomplishments of graduating LGBTQ+ undergraduate and graduate students and their allies.
On May 8 at 7 p.m., the LGBTQ+ Pride Center will post the Lavender Graduation Ceremony to their social media channels. This event is normally held in person, but due to the coronavirus outbreak it has since been moved online. The ceremony will include several speeches, including keynote speaker Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute & Fund and former mayor of Houston, and a presentation celebrating the accomplishments of this year’s Lavender graduates.
According to A&M Director of Gender and Sexual Diversity in the Offices of the Dean of Student Life Heather Wheeler, the online ceremony is different, but still offers a sense of community and celebration.
“Lavender Graduation is a cultural celebration for our LGBTQ+ students and allies,” Wheeler said. “It’s recognized that some of our LGBTQ+ students face that heterosexual and binary students do not face so we wanted to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments that our LGBTQ students and their allies give to a campus environment.”
Traditionally, special graduation stoles are given to Lavender graduates by the LGBTQ+ Pride Center. While this ceremony is not in person this year, stoles will still be available.
“When the staff is all back on campus we will mail out the stoles to graduates who have requested them for free,” Wheeler said. “Graduates do not have to participate in Lavender Graduation to get a stole. If they would like a stole they can email the LGBTQ+ Pride Center and we will work with them to get one.”
LGBTQ+ Pride Center student worker and communication junior Espyn Burks said although having the ceremony online makes it hard to feel a sense of community, the LGBTQ+ Pride Center has worked hard to make it a celebratory event despite the challenges.
“Lavender Graduation is a more personalized graduation ceremony because it more specifically recognizes the individual,” Burks said. “It can be challenging because this celebration is about community and, while there are virtual communities, it can be difficult to maintain that, but we are trying to make sure everyone still feels individualized and recognized.”
Although online, Lavender Graduation is still going to be an exciting day that offers members of the LGBTQ+ community a chance to celebrate who they are and what they’ve accomplished, said Vivian Escalon, biomedical sciences senior and Lavender Graduation participant.
“I wanted to find a place where I could feel included and not worry about hiding myself,” Escalon said. “When I heard about the ceremony, I felt like it was another way to be a part of the community at A&M and to be proud of myself and my accomplishments. Being able to share my accomplishments and everyone else’s accomplishments together is a really amazing opportunity.”
To watch Lavender Graduation, visit studentlife.tamu.edu/lgbtq/programs/lavgrad or watch on the LGBTQ+ Pride Center’s social media. The Pride Center can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @tamulgbtq.