The sixth Lavender Celebration took place in the Binghamton University Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center’s Multipurpose Room on Saturday, April 30. Hosted by the Q Center, the celebration aimed to celebrate the class of 2022’s LGBTQ+ students, including both undergraduate and graduate students — with the event also coinciding with Q Center’s sixth anniversary. This year marks the Celebration’s first in-person format since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the last two hosted on Zoom.
Several speeches were given by supporters of the Q Center within faculty, including Karen A. Jones, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and BU President Harvey Stenger. The Q Center also presented a video cameo from Alok Vaid-Menon, known as ALOK, a media personality, writer and performer, giving supporting words to the ceremony and the student’s success.
Aviva Friedman, ’14, a Binghamton City Council member and a known educator on sex and gender, gave a speech at the event. In her speech, Friedman reminisced about her early life as a young closeted child, her time being a BU student and her time leading The Equality Project to install gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.
Nic Francisco, coordinator of the Q Center, said they hoped the event would inspire students.
“Having our keynote speaker [Friedman] here, who’s an [alumna] of BU, is a representation [that] taking [BU’s] values and building that community after your time here is really important,” Francisco said. “She’s a city councilperson and being able to connect back to BU shows the enduring legacy of queer students here is important. The message we got from Alok Vaid-Menon, who’s a personal hero of mine, who’s such a visible embodiment of queer and trans joy, evokes such positive emotions from me and I hope students felt that too.”
The Cording Ceremony is one of the two main events of the celebration, where graduating students were announced and received their cords individually, starting with graduate students. The cords are multicolored, breaking away from more traditional monochrome cords usually received from Greek Life or club association. It’s a distinct yet subtle nod to their belonging in the LGBTQ+ community during their time at BU, while still inconspicuous enough to not out the wearers if they haven’t come out publicly. Graduating students who wished to receive a cord but could not attend the ceremony were able to pick them up from the Q Center.
“It was really awesome to see students and staff all gathered in one place, to be able to celebrate, see each other, being a community with each other in person,” Francisco said. “I think that visibility is really, really important, seeing the cords get put on them and [that] they get to take the cords to commencement if they feel comfortable.”
The Pride Awards followed the ceremony, where individuals who made important contributions to support BU’s LGBTQ+ community were acknowledged and honored. The awards included the OUTstanding Student Awards for graduate and undergraduate students, the Sunshine Award, Faculty/Staff Advocacy in Action Award, the Activism Award and the Community Service Award. The recipients of each award received heartfelt ovations after their speeches, with more than one standing ovation inspired from their popularity within the community. Q Center staff and student coordinators for the event were also recognized.
“I hope that LGBTQ students come to our physical location throughout the year to celebrate who they are — not just at the end — and learn about queer history and create a community with each other,” Francisco said.
Editor’s Note: Lakhsmi Chatterjee, Arts & Culture Editor, is an employee of the Q Center and co-host of the Lavender Celebration. She was not involved in the writing or editing of this article.