Richmond, Va.
Friday, July 31, 2015

VCU Holds Second Lavender Graduation

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Approximately 40 graduating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex seniors participated in the second VCU Lavender Graduation on April 26.

Lavender Graduation is a special graduation ceremony that honors the achievements of graduating gender and sexual minority students on campus. Participants received a rainbow cord to wear with their academic regalia at the university’s official commencement activities on May 11.

“It was such a delight to be part of the second annual Lavender Graduation planning group and to see the room full of people supporting our LGBTQIAA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and allies) students and their allies at the ceremony,” said Liz Canfield, a member of the event’s planning committee and an assistant professor and undergraduate adviser in the Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women's studies. “The energy level in the room was palpable, and it was truly touching to see the VCU community come together for this event.”

Several administrators, faculty and staff members and alumni of the VCU community spoke at the ceremony, including Beverly Warren, Ed.D., Ph.D., provost and vice president of academic affairs, and Wanda Mitchell, Ed.D., vice president for diversity and equity.

More than 100 friends, family members, alumni and allies appeared at the ASPiRE building for the event to show their support for the graduates.

“The importance of this event can't be underestimated,” Canfield said. “Lavender Graduation isn't only about visibility and community for LGBTQIAA people at this university, but also about celebration and accomplishment in community with one another.”

Lavender Graduation ceremonies began in 1995 on the campus of the University of Michigan and have since expanded to universities around the country. The color lavender is significant to LGBTQIAA history because it represents a combination of the pink triangle that gay men wore in concentration camps and the black triangle designating lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany. The LGBTQIAA civil rights movement took these symbols of hatred and combined them to make a color of pride and community.

The Lavender Graduation planning committee consisted of VCU faculty, staff, students and alumni. Sponsors of the event included the Department of Gender Sexuality and Women’s Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences, the Office of Diversity and Equity, the VCU and MCV Alumni Associations, Equality VCU, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) and VCU ASPiRE.

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The Lavender Graduation ceremony on Apr. 26 honored sexual minority graduating seniors, providing them with rainbow cords and tassels to wear at Commencement. Photo courtesy of Amy Hurd.
Liz Canfield, who served on the planning committee for Lavender Graduation, said that events like these make her truly proud of VCU, and the students, staff, faculty and administrators here. Photo courtesy of Azania Barbosa.
Wanda Mitchell (left) and Beverly Warren (right) presented graduates with their rainbow cords as their names were called. Photo courtesy of Azania Barbosa.