UTSA hosts Lavender Graduation April 30 to recognize GLBTQ students, allies

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(April 24, 2013) -- The UTSA Inclusion and Community Engagement Center will host its inaugural Lavender Graduation ceremony for graduating gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or questioning identifying students and student allies from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 30 in the University Center Denman Room (2.01.28) on the Main Campus. Students who identify as GLBTQ and their allies are encouraged to participate.

Lavender Graduation is a celebration that recognizes students who identify as GLBTQ and their allies. It acknowledges their achievements and contributions to UTSA. The keynote speaker will be Deborah Wagner, an instructor in the Department of Anthropology and adviser to the Inclusion and Community Engagement Center.

"This inaugural celebration will acknowledge our students' academic successes as well as honor their personal journey and growth," said Yvonne Peña, assistant dean of students. "Through this event, it is our hope that GLBTQ graduates will feel encouraged to maintain a connection to the university, the faculty and staff, and their fellow students, and become engaged alumni."

The event will feature recognition of GLBTQ Scholarship recipients and the presentation of two new awards. The Outstanding GLBTQ Student Leadership Award will be presented to a student who has demonstrated a commitment to leadership, service and active engagement within the UTSA community. The Outstanding Faculty-Staff Supporter to GLBTQ Students Award will be presented to a faculty or staff member who has demonstrated continued support for the GLBTQ community at UTSA.

The color lavender, a combination of pink and black, is an important symbol within GLBTQ history and culture. During World War II, gay men were forced to wear pink triangles in concentration camps and black triangles designated lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany. The GLBTQ civil rights movement took these two symbols of hatred and combined them to make symbols and a color of pride and community. Lavender Graduation ceremonies are held across the country and began in 1995 at the University of Michigan.

"Lavender Graduation means a lot of things," said Sarah Price, president of GLBTQ and a graduating senior. "It means I'm not the only one out there struggling, both as a student and as a person in the LGBTQ community. It means I don't have to fight alone, nor have I had to study alone. It recognizes that I have accomplished two of the hardest goals I ever put in front of myself: graduate college and come out of the closet. It validates my identity in front of an auditorium full of people. It celebrates me for being me, when so much of society says I should feel shame. Lavender Graduation isn't just a ceremony for students; it's a nod of approval for so many who get none anywhere else in their lives."

For more information or if you are graduating and a member of the GLBTQ and ally community, contact the Inclusion and Community Engagement Center at 210-458-4770 or engaged@utsa.edu.