May 052011
Authors: Alexandra Sieh

As 2010 moved into its final months, media outlets nationwide flooded newsstands and TV screens with the latest on what turned into a string of suicides from the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual community.

While not a new occurrence, the coverage shed light on this issue and in turn led other struggles to surface, including the national debate over Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Now almost a year later, CSU’s GLBT community and allies will join the throngs of other universities nationwide in hosting this Saturday the Lavender Graduation, a tradition that has lasted more than a decade.

“It’s been amazing this year, with so much pain at the start of this year, to see it end in a celebration,” said Foula Dimopoulos, director of the GLBT Resource Center on campus.
And it’s that resilience and success in the face of adversity that Dimopoulos said she enjoys in this ceremony.

“It honors the GLBT community and its allies and their ability to remain resilient and successful in what can often be a chilly or hostile climate,” she said.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, CSU’s Lavender Graduation mirrors a tradition started in 1995 by the University of Michigan’s Office of LGBT Affairs.

An event for GLBT community members and allies alike, the night honors those students graduating for their achievements and contributions, not only to GLBT efforts but also to community and university affairs.

Held this year in the Cherokee Park Ballroom of the Lory Student Center at 5 p.m., Dimopoulos said the proximity to the campus was important in connecting these graduates to their institution in a more “visceral way,” while also inviting a community and alumni alliance to help them “navigate” through their next steps.

“It means something to have it on campus,” she said.

For the 10th anniversary, the event will begin with a series of speakers including Dimopoulos herself and then will honor the 17 graduates of the night. IBM donated $1,500 to the cause.

Donations toward the resource center will be accepted, but the event is free to attend. Dimopoulos said this was decided to make the celebration more accessible to people from all walks of life.

“Education and graduation don’t happen in a vacuum,” she said. “It’s meant to bring people together.”

Design Editor and Copy Chief Alexandra Sieh can be reached at

Join In

  • What: 10th annual Lavender Graduation for the GLBT community members and allies to celebrate this year’s 17 graduates.
  • When: 5 p.m. Saturday.
  • Where: Cherokee Park Ballroom in the Lory Student Center.
    Cost: Free.
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