Cleveland State University hosted its Lavender Graduation ceremony for LGBTQ+ graduates of the spring 2023 semester on May 4. The annual ceremony honors the achievement of LGBTQ+ graduates each spring.
This year’s ceremony was organized collaboratively by Joey Dzingeleski, a graduate assistant at the LGBTQ+ Student Center, and members of the Marejoyce Green Women’s Center and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Department.
CSU isn’t the only university to celebrate their queer students with Lavender Graduation ceremonies. Colleges all over the country host these ceremonies as well.
“It sort of became a tradition that’s held at colleges all over the country, just as a way to honor LGBTQ+ graduates,” Dzingeleski said.
The tradition began in 1995 when Dr. Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian, wasn’t allowed to watch her children graduate because of her sexual orientation. The first lavender ceremony was held at The University of Michigan, with support of the dean of students at the time.
The color lavender is of historical significance to the LGBTQ+ community and civil rights movement. It combines hate symbols from Nazi Germany, the pink and black triangles that gay and lesbian prisoners were forced to wear in concentration camps, and gives them a new meaning.
Graduates from CSU that participate in Lavender Graduation are given a rainbow cord to wear to the university-wide commencement ceremony.
Dzingeleski participated in the ceremony in 2022, during which he and other participants were given gift bags and cake to celebrate their achievement and impact on campus.
“It made us aware of the meaning that we hold at the university and solidified the impact, especially since a lot of us were students who went to LGBTQ+ Student Services or worked at the center,” Dzingeleski said. “It was just a way to be recognized for the specific impact we’d had on campus.”
Students looking for support can contact the LGBTQ+ Student Center at 216-687-2324 or visit in person in Berkman Hall room 211.