By Annie Russell
Senior Staff Writer
The time has come of spring flowers, lavender chords, decorated graduation caps and new beginnings for CSU Bakersfield graduates. Packaged tightly in their wrap, lavender chords and rainbow pins await to be presented to a handful of CSUB students that are participating in the first Lavender Recognition Celebration.
“It kind of goes along with all the other cultural celebrations, it’s just like a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and allies,” said Dean’s Office Coordinator of the school of Arts and Humanities Matthew McClellan.
McClellan proposed the idea that was conjured from his thesis assignment of a celebration similar to the black and Chicano celebrations for LGBTQ+ students.
“I’m really glad that I’m here when this is happening so that I can be a part of it because I think it’s important to recognize something that sets you apart from the rest of the students.” Criminal justice major and LGBTQ+ Network club president Alyssa Olivera said.
Originally the celebration was to be held in the Dezember Reading Room in the library. However, due to the growing number of attendees it was changed to the Dore Theatre. The doors open to arriving guest at 2 p.m. and the event will start at 3 p.m. on May 12.
CSUB President, Horace Mitchell and Provost Jenny Zorn are expected to speak at the event as well as keynote speaker
Jan Hefner of the Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield.
All CSUB students are free to participate in the celebration upon registering online. There are 24 undergraduates expected to attend the celebration and around 120 guest estimated to show up, not including staff and faculty.
“I firmly believe that if were a community that is advocating for inclusion into like the mainstream area that we should never exclude anybody,” said McClellan.
Presentations of the lavender chords and pins will be given to the graduating students at the event.
After closing remarks there will be snacks and drinks provided to all guest and graduates.
“I think it’s a great representation of all the diversity here at CSUB,” said senior psychology major Luis Armendariz.
Unlike the black and Chicano celebrations, the Lavender Recognition Celebration will be free to the students.
“Were kind of in a rough atmosphere where all the progress that the LGBTQ+ community has made, there’s some push back on some of those rights. And so I think it’s important for the university to show that support, that we support all students,” said McClellan discussing a few of the reasons of having the celebration this year.
Other schools such as the University of Southern California have had the Lavender Celebration for years, some going under a different name such as Rainbow Celebration or reception. The Human Rights Campaign state the name Lavender is a reference to the pink and black triangles gay and lesbian prisoners were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps. Later the symbols were coined into a reference of pride for the LGBTQ+ community.
Graduating students are encouraged to participate in the separate celebrations as well as attend the commencement on May 19 as a whole.
“Were all part of one race, the human race,” said Benedettini.