Why Every University Should Recognize 'Lavender Graduation'

Lauren Williams's picture
Friday, May 10, 2013

"Lavender graduation," also known as "rainbow graduation," first occurred at the University of Michigan in 1995 and honors the hardships, achievements, struggles and hopes and dreams of graduates and allies from the gay community. At some universities and colleges some participants are even allowed to wear their sash to the main graduation ceremony.

When you enter college, there really is no road map for dealing with your sexuality. I vaguely remember my freshman orientation weekend, where I remember meeting one or two people whom I would consider good old friends if I saw them across the room at a college reunion, but other than that, there were no instructions on how to behave, how to start friendships or how to come out to roommates, which is possibly why I was defenseless when my first college roommate had me removed so that her homophobic stance wouldn't have to change.

The one presentation from freshman orientation that stands out in my mind was during the last day, when one presenter discussed how to stay safe and navigate college -- in the heterosexual sense: how to stay unique, how to make sure that you pass your classes while crossing new frontiers and how to get along with people whom you might not always like. But discussing how to express your sexuality, what to do when you are the odd person out in the gay-straight alliance, introducing more than one partner to your college roommates and starting conversations with friends that didn't end in accusations about fake affairs? Believe me, that wasn't included.

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