Celebrating LGBTQ students and allies
By: Thomas Hanaway
Tonight was the seventh annual Lavender Graduation, held at UWO's.
Ais a special graduation ceremony for LGBTQ students and allies. The event was originally started in 1995 at the University of Michigan, after a woman was not allowed to attend her child's graduation because she was a lesbian.
The idea became popular and started happening at colleges all over the country, including UWO. Oshkosh started its own Lavender Graduation in 2003 and has been growing ever since.
This year included seven graduates who were honored at the ceremony. Each student had a faculty or staff member from UWO who gave a small speech before their student received their certificate, flower and.
Dr. Liz Cannon, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, welcomed attendees to the event and also gave several speeches about some of the graduating students. It was so great to see Liz help put on such an incredible event. After knowing Liz for a good chunk of time, and even writing a story about her recently, I was so pleased to see her beaming the entire time. I know that Liz, and many others in the Oshkosh community, really put their heart and soul into the LGBTQ Resource Center, and it is such an amazing feeling to see all of their hard work in action.
It was such a warm atmosphere during the Lavender Graduation. I don't think that people who aren't part of the LGBTQ community can truly appreciate how refreshing it is to be in a room where people are nothing but supportive and welcoming, where one can be free to be who they are, free of judgment. It felt like such a safe environment which is a feeling that is more rare than I like.
The Lavender Graduation was a very emotional evening. It was great seeing friends coming to the end of their undergraduate career, and starting the next chapter of their lives. It was also interesting to reflect and realize how some of them have evolved significantly in the past few years. I'm very proud of all of the graduates from this evening, and hope to reach the accomplishments and expectations they have set.
I'll end with a quote that was on the Lavender Graduation program: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson