Featured Photo by William Langston
Story by Baylah Close
Many people don’t know what a Lavender Graduation is, nor the importance of one.
Lavender Graduations are ceremonies held to celebrate the academic achievements of LGBTQ+ students. They congratulate students for staying in school, acknowledge their success and recognize their leadership and contributions to the university.
With a Lavender Graduation celebration, no actual degrees are conferred. The idea revolves around being a support system for many LGBTQ+ peoples that don’t have a supportive group to celebrate their accomplishments with, usually due to familial alienation.
The color lavender holds significance in the LGBTQ+ community, with lesbians being called the “lavender menace” during the 1970s, and homosexual men being referred to as “lavender lads” prior to the “Lavender Scare,” a term coined in the 1950s to demean the community.
The ceremonies date back to 1995, beginning with a mere three graduates. They are now celebrated across the country, with Middle Tennessee State University joining for the first time this year. A small ceremony was held in the Student Union Ballroom, with a single but significant graduate: Zofia Zagalsky, president of MTLambda.
She stepped onto the stage to receive her stole, adorned with the colors of the pride flag to celebrate the community she serves at the university.
“Coming to MTSU was a second chance, it was the second wind for me, so having the MTLambda being a base, being a platform to continue on serving people, to continue on to find purpose in my life and find purpose in the things that I do, it has been nothing less than a blessing and all I can say is thank you for all that you do,” Zagalsky said.
Professor William Langston spoke to the crowd, amplifying the importance of events like these for queer students.
“For LGBTQ+ students, they face problems, they get their funding cut off, and when they finally achieve this, despite all that others have done to try and stop them, there’s no one there to celebrate their accomplishments at all and so offering this is such an important thing,” Langston said.
MTLambda hopes to host more lavender graduations in the years to come.
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