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Queer Coalition prepares to host second annual Lavender Graduation

Flier courtesy of Queer Coalition

The first-ever lavender graduation (LavGrad) ceremony was held at the University of Michigan in 1995. Ronni Sanlo created the event for members of the LGBTQ+ community to have their own specific ceremony to honor their achievements. 

Bradley University’s student organization, Queer Coalition, held its first LavGrad last spring, and the second is set for May 10. 

Faculty and students alike attend to show their support for graduating members of the LGBTQ+ community. At last year’s ceremony, a parent was moved to express gratitude for the ceremony to Assistant Professor of Art History Cyle Metzger. 

Metzger said the parent told him they worried about their student coming to Bradley before coming out to the world. Their worries dissipated when they found out their child would have an openly transmasculine professor like Metzger.

“That was a really cool moment to be able to receive that,” Metzger said. “Even though that’s not the purpose of lavender graduation. The purpose is for the student to have a moment to be celebrated, but as a faculty member, I got that benefit as well.”

Being one of the only trans faculty member at Bradley, Metzger says that he feels LavGrad is a great opportunity for LGBTQ+ members to be recognized for their accomplishments. 

Amy Scott, associate history professor and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) program, shares that sentiment. Scott is the faculty advisor for Brave Space and Queer Coalition, and advised Common Ground from 2015-2023.

Not only has Scott’s experience with Queer Coalition helped the club achieve milestones in Bradley’s history concerning its queer community, but it has also left a long-lasting personal effect on her. 

“I harbor profound pride in the students who, in addition to their academic obligations and work responsibilities, take it upon themselves to organize an LGBTQ+ affinity graduation for our university,” Scott said. “They have made Bradley University a more inclusive and caring community for all queer-identified and gender-expansive students, faculty, and staff, including me, and for that, they have my deepest gratitude.”

While Scott played a vital role in making LavGrad happen, another person who has worked to make it all possible is Annalies Wettstein.

Wettstein, a sophomore sociology major, said that she is pursuing LavGrad as part of a gender justice action project for Scott’s Directed Research in WGS’s course. She has also heavily involved Queer Coalition as co-lead of the organization. 

Regardless of the project’s status, Wettstein believes that LavGrad creates a positive campus culture and climate. 

“Just having a lavender graduation, being able to say Bradley University holds this event is really helpful for making the university look good,” Wettstein said. “But also for making sure that every single minority population on Bradley’s campus gets that recognition that it deserves because there haven’t really been much celebratory events for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Wettstein also said she has received help from fellow Bradley students Carmine Ingram, Ashley Guerrero, Zoie Roach-King and Rory Leverton.

The group has worked hard to attain speakers for the ceremony, including Roach-King, Scott, Office of Campus Culture and Climate Executive Director Charity Gunn and Deric Kimler, the executive director of Central Illinois FRIENDS

The WGS Department, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Office of Campus Culture and Climate are sponsoring the event.

Students interested in walking at the LavGrad ceremony or attending to support their fellow Braves can register here

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