The Q Center’s fourth-annual Lavender Celebration took place on Wednesday, May 6 at 3 p.m. through Zoom. The aim of the event was to celebrate graduating students, as well as reflect upon the last school year for Binghamton University’s LGBTQ community.
The event is a modified version of celebrations that take place across the country, born out of discrimination faced by LGBTQ students and parents in the 1990s. Michael Burt, graduate events and programs intern at the Q Center and a first-year graduate student studying social work, wrote in an email about the creation and history of the celebrations nationwide.
“Lavender Celebration is nationally known as ‘Lavender Graduation’ and was originally created in 1995 by Dr. Ronni Sanlo following her denial to attend her biological children’s graduations because of her sexual orientation,” Burt said. “The first Lavender Graduation took place at the University of Michigan and since then, Lavender Graduation has been held at over 50 colleges and universities annually.”
Held for the first time at BU after the creation of the Q Center in 2016, the event has grown and expanded its focus to become an all-encompassing celebration of LGBTQ achievement on campus. Burt wrote about how the event has changed since its beginning.
“Over the past four years, the Q Center has expanded upon the initial graduation ceremony for our LGBTQ+ students to include an awards ceremony, the Pride Awards and include special guests to help us celebrate,” Burt wrote.
The celebration was originally planned to take place in person, but the cancellation of events due to the coronavirus required rapid changes to be made. Burt discussed how given the hard times students are going through, the planning committee thought it was more important than ever to hold the ceremony. Burt also acknowledged how the online version of the event enabled the Q Center to invite a variety of special guests that likely would not have attended under normal circumstances.
“We were able to secure six special celebrity guests (Mrs. Kasha Davis, Brooke Cartus, Justin Sayre, Adam Eli, Steven Canals and Leigh Nash) that we never would have been able to have for the event if it was not virtual,” Burt said.
The Pride Awards contained the OUTstanding Student Awards for graduate and undergraduate students, the Sunshine Award, Faculty/Staff Ally Award and the Activism Awards along with recognition for the interns, volunteers and first-year students at the Q Center. Burt added that the decision to split the OUTstanding Student Award into two categories, one award for undergraduate and one for graduate students, enabled the ceremony to honor more student achievements.
Apart from that, the celebration’s focus was on reflecting and applauding several groups and clubs through the “Queer Year in Review” slide show. Staff, faculty and students submitted photos of their experiences relating to the LGBTQ community, organization and clubs in the past year. Divided into two sections called “Events” and “Our Communities,” it reminded the audience of the memories they’ve made and the sense of community on BU’s campus.
After the celebration, attendees were given the choice to join two separate Zoom chats or to stay in the original chat and enjoy live music by DJ Frankie. The separate chats served as the reception for either undergraduate or graduate students.