Lavender Graduation to take place for LGBT students

By By Celeste Hollenbeck

By Celeste Hollenbeck

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center is holding the first-ever Lavender Graduation ceremony at the U on May 5 at 7 pm in the Union.

The ceremony will be the first of its kind and is meant to be a celebration for graduating students with ties to the center.

Similar graduation ceremonies have been held at a number of other colleges in attempts to commemorate the accomplishments of a minority group that often feels excluded from the larger graduating class

“Sometimes college is so difficult,” said Ruth Hackford Peer, a coordinator at the center. “The trials of coming out…the daily homophobia that we encounter, simply surviving college and reaching graduation is a huge accomplishment.”

The first Lavender Graduation was held at the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts when Hackford Peer was a graduate assistant.

“The event was very successful, even though there were only about 10 graduates who participated. My sense is that it meant so much to those who did participate that it doesn’t matter how many folks there are,” she said.

Hackford-Peer said she developed the idea for the graduation ceremony after getting about a dozen confirmations of interest from graduating students.

Guest speaking at the event will be an alumna of the center, Laura Milliken Gray, a local attorney and U graduate.

The graduates planning to attend this year’s Lavender ceremony are pleased with having an additional graduation event in which they feel less estranged.

Some students feel as though Lavender Graduation can be unifying and a way in which they can congratulate themselves.

“This is part of daily life as an LGBT student-fear of being scorned, discriminated against and even physically harmed. I am grateful that there will be a celebration for my graduation where I don’t have to pretend to be anything other than what I am,” said Heidi, a U student planning to attend the event who requested that her last name not be used. “Being different in a world that discourages differences can be difficult. Knowing that you are not alone is the first comfort that many young LGBT students have ever had.”

Additionally, it is a hope of Hackford-Peer’s and the resource center that establishing the Lavender Graduation will help to build an alumni network for the center.

“It makes sense to continue relationships with folks instead of searching for alumni at some later date,” Hackford-Peer said.

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