The University of Houston LGBTQ Resource Center hosted the largest Lavender Graduation that UH has seen so far. Lav Grad is an annual ceremony conducted on numerous campuses to honor LGBTQ+ and ally students and acknowledge their achievements and contributions to the university and beyond.
In 1995, Lavender Graduation was created by Dr. Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish Lesbian, who was denied the opportunity to attend her children's graduations because of her sexuality. The first ceremony had only three graduates and was held at the University of Michigan. Today, over 500 colleges and universities offer lavender graduation.
Keynote Speakers included the Resource Center's own Graduate Assistant, Kamah Asha Wilson and UH alum and community organizer, Becca Keo-Meier. Kamah Asha Wilson's speech empowered by comparing graduates to diamonds and invoking them to know and show their worth. Asha graduated with a Masters of Social Work. Becca Keo-Meier, a current doctoral candidate at the UH Graduate College of Social Work, moved the audience with a speech about their roots as a Cambodian-American and the struggles their family endured to get them where they are now.
With tears in their eyes, the audience watched as numerous graduates walked across the stage receiving both a certificate and a cord: rainbow or lavender. Their accomplishments were read aloud as they walked and were greeted by both Crimson Jordan of the LGBTQ Alumni Association and Becca Keo-Meier.
"My journey has been weird and full of ups and full of ups and downs," said graduate Mitchell Johnson, "navigating through the world of being trans has been both rewarding and terrifying. I had a great time at Lav Grad and it was a big confidence booster hearing my name being called."
More about the LGBTQ Resource Center: The LGBTQ Resource Center provides support and a safe space for LGBTQ students to access resources, ask questions, and make connections with other students. Through visibility and education, they seek to create an environment of LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion for the entire campus community. Services include a lending library, mentoring program, Cougar Ally Training, and discussion groups.