Arcadia University will hold its first Lavender Ceremony, an event celebrating LGBTQIA+ and gender non-conforming students in the Class of 2018, on Thursday, May 17.
Both undergraduate and graduate students are invited to be recognized. Participants will receive a lavender cord to wear with their Commencement regalia, if they choose to do so. Those who wish to participate in this ceremony must RSVP by Tuesday, April 17.
The ceremony will also feature keynote speaker Evan Thornburg, deputy director of Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs.
“To self-identify as queer, no matter your status in or out of the closet, is a radical act against heteronormative and occasionally violent society,” said Tessa Paige ’18, lead organizer of the event. “Our campus is also uniquely welcoming, an environment not all of us will continue to have after graduation. The event therefore serves as a proper goodbye to the community, our friends, and our influential faculty and staff.”
Arcadia is the first private university in the Philadelphia area to host a Lavender Ceremony. Other colleges and universities in Pennsylvania to host a Lavender Ceremony include Temple University, Penn State University, Bloomsburg University, Carnegie Mellon University, Lock Haven University, and University of Pittsburgh.
The Lavender Ceremony was created by Dr. Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian, and is backed by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). According to the HRC, the color lavender was adopted by the LGBTQ civil rights movement to change the meaning of World War II hate symbols— specifically, the pink and black triangles gay men and lesbian women were made to wear. Lavender, a combination of the two colors, is now used to promote pride and community.
“For students who will return to being closeted with their families after Commencement, this is our time to recognize our graduates for their achievements in full acknowledgement of their identity,” said Paige.