LANCASTER— Nearly three dozen graduates gathered at the Antelope Valley Fair Grounds on Saturday in lavender-colored stoles representing the pride and unity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. The Lavender Graduation, presented by The Out Project, makes history as the first-ever graduation of its kind in the Antelope Valley.
“You can do anything you put your mind to,” California Secretary of State Debra Bowen told the graduates.
Bowen, the event’s Commencement Speaker, encouraged students to pursue their dreams and aspirations, and to not be afraid of standing out. She said that many before them would never have imagined a Lavender Graduation happening in Lancaster and that times are changing for the better.
“I want to see a world where we don’t care about your orientation when getting a marriage license,” Bowen said. “That’s going to change in my lifetime.”
Following Bowen, graduate speakers Craig Cincis from CSU Northridge, Sabrina Piellusch from Pinecrest and Anthony Barros from AV High School spoke about their experiences growing up as members of the LGBTQ community and the obstacles they have overcome with the help of The Out Project.
As the graduates spoke, the audience went through moments of laughter, cheers, and tears as they witnessed the stories of their fellow family members, friends, and classmates.
The Lavender Graduation was held as part of AV Pride 2013, an annual event that celebrates the local LGBTQ community through entertainment, arts, and friendship.
Traditionally hosted on college campuses throughout the nation since 1995, Lavender Graduation recognizes the accomplishments of LGBTQ and straight ally students. According to literature distributed at Saturday’s event, lavender symbolizes an important part of LGBTQ history. It combines the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear and the black triangle designating lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany. LGBTQ activists took these symbols of hatred, combined them, and created a symbol and color of pride and community, according to the literature. The Valley’s first Lavender Graduation was sponsored by Carrol and R. Rex Parris, and it honored LGBTQ and straight ally students graduating from elementary school through college.
Congratulations to all the Lavender Graduates!
- Felix Alvarez, Lancaster High School
- Anthony Barros, Antelope Valley High School
- Christian Campos, Desert Winds High School
- Craig Cincis, California State University, Northridge
- Catlalli Contreras, Lancaster High School
- Tisha Monique-Music Corleone, California State University, Los Angeles
- Georgette Cortes, Littlerock High School
- Cheyenne Deisch, Lancaster High School
- Chelsea Douglas, Eastside High School
- Jenny Doyle, University of Antelope Valley
- Ana Escalera, Quartz Hill High School
- David Espinoza, Canyon High School
- Emily Fife, Antelope Valley High School
- Destiny Frederick, Eastside High School
- India Hargett, SOAR High School
- Mara Javines, Lancaster High School
- Katrina Kazmer, InterCoast College Burbank
- Adrian Lopez, University of Southern California
- Ashley Lopez, Boston Reed College
- William McDougall, Pete Knight High School
- Nick Miller, Quartz Hill High School
- Ashli Moody, SOAR High School
- Alexandria Moreno, Quartz Hill High School
- Lann Nguyen, SOAR High School
- Brandy-Catherine Nicoll, Antelope Valley High School
- David Perez, Antelope Valley College
- Louie Perez, Pete Knight High School
- Sabrina Piellusch, Pinecrest Elementary School
- Kevin Reyes, Lancaster High School
- Joseph Rodriguez, SOAR High School & Antelope Valley College
- Jackie Sweeney, SOAR High School
- Kat Tjosaas, Highland High School
- Rigoberto Torres, Highland High School
- Mario Vasquez Zuniga, SOAR High School
- Naakia Wilson, Lancaster High School
Sights from Antelope Valley’s first Lavender Graduation
For many more pictures from this event, visit our facebook page.