Lavender Graduation: Celebrating LGBTQIA+ achievement

Lavender Graduation: Celebrating LGBTQIA+ achievement
Monday, May 16, 2022

Lavender Graduation is a ceremony held on college campuses nationwide to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied students. 

Sponsored by UNC Charlotte’s Office of Identity Equity and Engagement and the LGBTQ+ Staff and Faculty Caucus, each year, Lavender Graduation at UNC Charlotte focuses on LGBTQIA+ and allied graduating students and their achievements.

“It is a chance for students in the community to celebrate individual and community accomplishments while simultaneously having a space to be unapologetically themselves,” said Chelsea Ortiz, assistant director for sexual and gender diversity in the Office of Identity, Equity and Engagement.

This year’s ceremony was held Thursday, April 28, in person for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Graduates received a lavender graduation cord and a certificate to mark their achievements. 

lavender graduation

What is the meaning of the color lavender?

The color lavender has held significant meaning throughout LGBTQ+ history. It is the blending of the pink triangle gay men were forced to wear in concentration camps and the black triangle designation given to lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany. Lavender has since become a reclaimed symbol for many and for some, symbolizes the spirit and pride of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

lavender graduation

Lavender Graduation’s historical significance

The first ceremony was created in 1995 at the University of Michigan by Ronni Sanlo, Ed.D., who was denied the opportunity to attend the graduations of her children because of her sexual orientation. This experience, coupled with a desire to make sure her LGBTQ+ students closed the chapter on their college experience in a positive way, led Sanlo to create a tradition that has expanded to hundreds of colleges and universities. 

lavender graduation

Lavender Graduation at UNC Charlotte

Lavender Graduation is held once a year and is open to all graduating LGBTQ+ and allied students, undergraduate and graduate. This year’s ceremony honored May and December 2022 graduates. 

Each year, a student active in the LGBTQ+ community at Charlotte is chosen by members of the Office of Identity, Equity and Engagement to give the keynote address at Lavender Graduation. This year’s keynote speaker was Tony Mungo, a master’s student in English, who is graduating in December 2022.

lavender graduation