Lavender Graduation: The Celebration of LGBTQ Graduates and Allies

Posted Apr 28, 2023

By Erica Bush ’25

Each year, Otterbein celebrates its LGBTQIA+ seniors at the Lavender Graduation ceremony, held during the week before commencement in the historic Philomathean Room in Towers Hall. While eight students participated in the ceremony this year, 23 LGBTQIA+ graduates were honored.

Lavender Graduation honors the great accomplishments made by LGBTQIA+ graduates and the community they shared during their time at Otterbein. Students are presented a lavender cord to be worn at Commencement as well as an amethyst crystal to protect them in the next stage of their lives.

“This event symbolizes that we’re here, and that we’re ready to take the experiences we had at Otterbein and now apply them to the real world and show that we’re going to change it,” said honoree Fernando Jose Chairez, a senior Spanish and Latin American studies major.

Lavender graduate Mary Beth Curtis, a senior history major, says that the LGBTQIA+ community at Otterbein is unlike any other.

“This is probably the most welcoming community I’ve ever encountered. There are so many different kinds of people from different walks of life and it’s a great place to find your true self,” Curtis said. 

Professor Suzanne Ashworth, Department of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, says that it is impossible to put the importance of Lavender Graduation into words. “I know that the lavender graduates have all the tools they need to make a positive impact on the world.”