Instead of the traditional red and black, students at San Diego State University will celebrate in shades of purple at the fourth annual Lavender graduation ceremony on May 8. The event honors graduating students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex or allies.
“The Lavender graduation ceremony is very celebratory,” said Esther Rothblum, SDSU women’s studies professor and adviser for the university’s LGBT Studies program. “It’s very important to foreground LGBT issues at graduation and for students to be able to be out and open and supported, and to celebrate their lives in the company of their families and friends.”
During the ceremony, which is open to all SDSU students, graduates receive a certificate and a rainbow cord to wear as part of their commencement regalia.
Alyssa Baker is the 2013 outstanding graduate from the LGBT Studies program.
“For me, the rainbow cords are the outward representation of my commitment to the LGBT community as an ally, and the diversity that has come along with my education at SDSU,” said Alyssa Baker, the 2013 outstanding graduate from the LGBT Studies program.
“I was ecstatic to find out that there was a ceremony put on for the LGBTQIA community at State to recognize the accomplishments of graduates in the community, and make an effort to celebrate graduation on our own terms,” continued Baker, who hopes to one day work in the SDSU Cross Cultural Center's LGBTQ Resource Area, helping fellow Aztecs in their journey.
The Lavender graduation ceremony is not a replacement for the university’s main commencement ceremony, said Rothblum, but an opportunity for students in the LGBT community — along with their family and friends—to celebrate their accomplishments in a personal and meaningful way.
The ceremony has grown each year beginning with just 18 participants in 2010, to more than 30 this year.
Graduates majoring in everything from international business to religious studies, art, education, economics, and women’s studies to international security and conflict resolution will be participating in this year’s Lavender graduation.
“Lavender Graduation is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the diversity of SDSU, as well as the expanding activism and scholarship on LGBT issues around the world,” said Rothblum.
The Lavender graduation is free and open to the public. It will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8, at SDSU’s Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. Refreshments will be served and parking is free on the upper level of Parking Structure 5.
Approximately 9,100 degree candidates will participate in SDSU’s Commencement ceremonies May 17 to 19 at Viejas Arena. SDSU Imperial Valley campus will also host a commencement ceremony May 16 on their Rollie Carrillo Quad. Schedules and additional information about SDSU’s Commencement ceremonies can be found online.