UC graduation

The University of Cincinnati’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Center will be hosting its annual Lavender Graduation at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 25.

The ceremony honors graduating LGBTQ+ UC students and allies and acknowledges their achievements throughout their time at the university. This year, nearly 30 students will be commended at the event.

“It is an opportunity for our university to really celebrate our LGBTQ students and recognize the challenges they have overcome and celebrate the fact that they were able to get over those hurdles,” said Preston Keith, director of the LGBTQ Center. “Our ceremony is to honor and affirm students, and [to] celebrate their pronouns and the way they identify.”

The event will feature opening and closing remarks from Keith, speeches from dean of students Juan Guardia and program coordinator Jayson Douglas, and an alumni keynote speaker.

The LGBTQ Center will also be handing out several awards during the event, including:

  • Leisan Smith Founders Award — Recognizes an individual or group dedicated to social justice and improving the lives of LGBTQ individuals
  • LGBTQ Bridge Builder Award — Celebrates any UC student or organization for excellence and commitment in building connections between the LGBTQ community and broader student life at UC.
  • LGBTQ Student Activist Award — Honors any UC student for excellence in leadership or service to the LGBTQ community at UC.

“At the ceremony, [students] get to hear their appropriate pronouns and share how they have had a positive impact on our campus,” said Keith. “In fact, a lot of students forego going to their actual graduation and just to Lavender Graduation.”

The color lavender has been associated with LGBTQ community for decades. Other universities have called the ceremony “rainbow graduation,” paying homage to the LGBTQ rainbow pride flag.

“It is an event that can raise a lot of awareness and highlight the many obstacles LGBTQ students have to face around campus,” said Keith. “We have administrative faculty, staff and professors that come to the ceremony to stand by and engage with their LGBTQ students.”

Ally students are encouraged to attend to show support for LGBTQ friends and peers.

Often, LGBTQ and ally students are left to navigate their collegiate experience as invisible subjects and may go unrecognized for their academic scholarship, co-curricular achievements and community activism, said LGBTQ Center program coordinator Jayson Douglas.

“Lavender Graduation is an intimate opportunity to do just that,” said Douglas. “Our aim is to celebrate the achievements and contributions that students of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions have made. I look forward to this event each year and invite all to join us on this day.”

For more information on Lavender Graduation, click or tap here.

Features Editor

David Rees has been with The News Record since September 2018 as staff reporter, chief reporter, and features editor.