AV Pride hosts first Lavender Graduation

The first annual Lavender Graduation took place on Saturday, June 1 at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds at 11:30 a.m. The event was part of AV Pride 2013. (All photos by KARINA CORNEJO)

The first annual Lavender Graduation took place on Saturday, June 1 at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds at 11:30 a.m. The event was part of AV Pride 2013. (All photos by KARINA CORNEJO)

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.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen gives the commencement speech and encourages students to be who they are.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen gives the commencement speech and encourages students to be who they are.

“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.”

Graduates give speeches on their personal journeys and the help they received from The Out Project.

Graduates give speeches on their personal journeys and the help they received from The Out Project.

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

Volunteers pass out graduation stoles and programs to graduates before the ceremony begins.

Volunteers pass out graduation stoles and programs to graduates before the ceremony begins.

Graduates listen to Bowen's speech before receiving their certificates.

Graduates listen to Bowen’s speech before receiving their certificates.

(Right) Sister of graduate speaker Craig Cincis cheers for her brother as he finishes his speech.

(Right) Sister of graduate speaker Craig Cincis cheers for her brother as he finishes his speech.

Bowen shakes the hand of Antelope Valley College graduate and presents the Lavender Graduation certificate.

Bowen shakes the hand of an Antelope Valley College graduate and presents the Lavender Graduation certificate.

Bowen is awarded a rainbow stiletto by The Out Project for her work and contributions to the LGBTQ community.

Bowen is awarded a rainbow stiletto by The Out Project for her work and contributions to the LGBTQ community.

For many more pictures from this event, visit our facebook page.

  77 comments for “AV Pride hosts first Lavender Graduation

  1. June 3, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    It is with great regret that we must close the comments under this story.

    Moderating the comments under this particular article is simply taking up too much of our time. We’ve had to manually remove nearly two dozen comments for personal attacks, sexual innuendos or being off topic. Our automatic filter has also blocked over four dozen more comments for using slurs based on sexual orientation.

    If your comment was blocked for using a slur, you will be permanently moderated going forward. We do not tolerate slurs of any kind. We sincerely apologize to our readers who were looking to engage in thoughtful discussion. If you disagree with our decision to close the comments under this story, let us know at editor@theavtimes.com.

  2. JHB
    June 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Jason is an embarrassment to the U.S. Marine core, the United States of America, and humanity. I used to respect U.S. soldiers, but now that I see how poorly they read (clearly he has trouble comprehending other commenter’s statements) and how ignorant and intolerant they can be… I begin to worry about the safety of our country. Let’s hope Jason is a unique outlier and that his unit isn’t as strong as its weakest link.

    • Wow
      June 3, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      You’re the embarrassment, not Jason. We would not have liberty if it wasn’t for people like Jason actually holding on to objective morality.

    • Jason
      June 3, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      [removed], I wouldn’t have made it this far if I wasn’t a damn good Marine fighting for your freedoms. Take a dive off the next cliff and do the world a favor. Don’t ever question my mettle when you hide behind your snide civilian liberties and are not willing to go into harm’s way yourself you arrogant piece of work. I’d like to meet in person to discuss our political/moral differences.

  3. Letlow
    June 3, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Once again, congratulations to all the courageous graduates!! You are a beacon of hope for the next generation.

    On another note, I think it is absolutely hilarious and simultaneously pathetic that gay bashers have been trolling this story since the second it was posted. If you are so disgusted by this event, why do you continue to click on the story and take time out of your “busy” day to comment? Why don’t you just let these people be, and go about your merry “traditional” life? How have these people affected your life in any way shape or form whatsoever??? Why does their pride offend YOU so much? Could it be because…

    “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

    • AVGirl
      June 3, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Lol we posted around the same time, used that exact same quote :)

    • Jason
      June 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Not bashing. Just making sure that everybody is aware that this is absolutely disgusting.

  4. AVfubar
    June 3, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Really? Why is it that all these ‘splinter’ groups who decry they aren’t getting ‘Equal Rights’ are always engaged in segregationist activities? As far as I’m concerned these people are just blowing smoke.

  5. Chris
    June 3, 2013 at 9:51 am


    I am just thankful that this is a tiny minority of people in the AV that actually support this. Hopefully it will die out. This is blatantly immoral. I am disgusted. Once you go down this road, where will it stop?

    By and large this is still a community of people that do not support this kind of blatant societal evil. They are truly the ones who are the bigots. They have convinced themselves that they are the ones who are right and everyone who disagrees with them is wrong.

    This will pass, Hitler used the same method. Eventually people caught on and saw how wrong he was. Let’s hope the same thing happens here.

    • Jason
      June 3, 2013 at 9:53 am

      I hope so, because people seem to not care about the state of our nation these days. Hopefully, we will wake up before we turn into a branch of Eastern Europe.

  6. Loy
    June 3, 2013 at 8:50 am

    I can’t believe all the negative comments that are made because it’s a gay article. It is not abnormal because if it were they wouldn’t be created. No one is forced to be gay or is taught to be gay. They are just literally born that way they can’t help its just how they are. Just like y’all being so judgmental let them be and have their article they deserve it for having the courage to be out and proud

    • Jason
      June 3, 2013 at 9:51 am

      Really, has your evolutionary science proven that people are born gay? It’s called a lack of self control and is an abomination.

      • AVGirl
        June 3, 2013 at 11:51 am

        I just don’t get why you keep calling it an abomination. There are lots of things in the Bible that are decried as being against God’s word, yet I am sure you still do them. Like cutting your hair or trimming your facial hair. Owning slaves is approved of in the Bible as well, but surely you disagree with that?

        There is a Shakespearian quote “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”. Go look it up. Your comment of self control says it all.

      • William
        June 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm

        Jason, GO! Just go already. You don’t like California and yet you’re here whining and complaining like it’s the last thing you’ll ever say or do.

        GO!!!! LEAVE. GOOD RIDDANCE. We don’t like what you think, stand for, believe or have to say.

        So,go. Be among your own kind. I bet after a month, you’ll be complaining about your new location and neighbors just as annoyingly till the end of your days.

        • Wow
          June 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm

          No William,

          you go, we are all sick and tired of people like you trying to ruin this state.

        • Jason
          June 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm

          If you would have read my earlier posts, I’m in North Carolina which is why I’m bashing YOUR state. California is the laughing stock of the nation because a majority of you are so liberally biased that it affects your judgment. And don’t worry, you can have the state. I’ve found a home and people that have what we used to refer to as MORALS.

          • Troy
            June 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm

            You sound like a Lancaster Baptist washout. what gives?

          • Jason
            June 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm

            That’s a great church. You should try it.

    • Wow
      June 3, 2013 at 9:57 am

      You’re the one being judgmental pushing your gay agenda down our throat.

  7. CA Resident
    June 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    I have no problem with people living as they choose. I do have a problem with my children being exposed to things like this…. both on the television and in civic discourse. Im fed up with flaming homosexual storylines on the prime time television that I may have on in the evening with my kids. I dont want my adolescent to experience his/her first kiss with someone of the same sex just because someone at the lavender graduation said its OK or because it was on the WB.

    Its not normal to be homosexual, its abnormal. Sorry, just stating the facts. Men and women have babies for biological reasons.

    • Jason
      June 3, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Well said.

    • AVGirl
      June 3, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      What would happen if that did happen? Would you love her any less?

  8. Chris
    June 2, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    I don’t understand what they graduated from. Was there some special program they all participated in to graduate?

    • WTF
      June 3, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      exactly? did the graduate from? Being queer?

  9. Phil
    June 2, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I think Roger Gallizzi looks hot in his hat :))

  10. Drake
    June 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Shame on you AV Times for promoting your queer agenda while people are losing there homes and livelihoods in a fire. This paper is run by gays. Boycott if you still believe in the Bible!!

    • Jason
      June 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      Glad to see I’m not the only one disgusted by this.

    • Yvette
      June 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm

      If you don’t like it don’t read it, plain and simple… The news is for all events going on in the AV whether you like it or not.

      • Jason
        June 3, 2013 at 4:10 am

        Sorry, meant to say alluding vice eluding. Even though that makes sense in this regard.

  11. Martha
    June 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Congrats to all those who graduated and were brave enough to be a part of this ceremony even though we sadly still have close minded people in our society.

    • Jason
      June 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Or just people with morals.

      • Martha
        June 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm

        You seem to really enjoy reading about this subject since you have commented all over it. Thanks for the support!! And by the way, being gay/lesbian/bi does not mean we have no morals. We’re just not closed minded bigots

        • Jason
          June 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm

          If you want to call it that. Close minded in this regard is moral. I like how gays refer to those that don’t support their disgust with the closed minded bigot argument.

          • georgette cortes
            June 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm

            as a person who graduated in the lavender graduation i will tell you that every person i met there was a way better person than you are because they understood that everyone is different and amazing. i don’t care if you hate what all of us stand for so do us the same courtesy and not care what we do.

          • Wow
            June 3, 2013 at 8:06 am

            I am so very embarrassed that our community would hold something like this. This truly is disgusting. I am so sick and tired of this homosexual agenda. Homosexuality is not normal, quit trying to convince us that it is.

  12. June 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Congrats to all for their SCHOLASTIC ACHIEVEMENTS and SCHOOL graduation! That being said, I thought the desire of all “labeled” groups was to NOT be labeled or excluded, rather to be included in and considered a part of the society in general. Doesn’t “group-specific” events further segregate said group from society in general? I don’t understand how one can have it both ways. Also, if a GRADUATION is “the receiving or conferring of an academic degree or diploma” after “successfully completing a course of study or training”, what exactly is this group graduating from?

    • Jason
      June 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      Better watch out, the activists will surely comment.

    • Please
      June 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      Go figure… someone can express disagreement with an activity without using insulting words and making very valid points.

      • June 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm

        @Please: Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for large groups of people from all backgrounds, groups, etc. having a great time at a party or celebration! Heck, the only reason my family and I didn’t attend is because we were out of town until this morning. My thought is that EVERY group (LGBTQ, NAACP, NCLR, NOW, AAU KKK, et al.)seems to promote “all inclusive” in their membership literature or mission statement, but the very act of creating a specific group creates an “exclusive” vibe. It just seems (to me, anyway) that the more we tell the world we’re “one people” the more we segregate ourselves with the creation of special interest groups.

        • Please
          June 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm

          I agree. Very valid points.

  13. PCB
    June 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    We are gonna have a big make out session in front of both of your houses in support of our first ammendment right to freedom of expression and equality.

    • Jason
      June 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      Don’t do it in front of my house. Might consider that a threat, and in North Carolina you won’t get to far down the road.

      • Matt K.
        June 3, 2013 at 11:50 am

        If you live in North Carolina, why the hell do you care about what’s going on in Lancaster, California?

        Troll much?

        • Jason
          June 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm

          Because unfortunately I have family that still live there and have to suffer through the liberal agenda.

          • Jason
            June 3, 2013 at 1:38 pm

            And I like to keep up with the school I graduated from.

      • Matt K.
        June 3, 2013 at 11:56 am

        That famous William Shakespeare comment comes to mind with regard to “Jason” here…

    • Jason
      June 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      …that would be exercising my 2nd amendment right.

      • PCB
        June 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm

        As long as I don’t step on your property it’s just violence. I’m sure all my NC friends don’t feel the same so don’t think you speak for an entire state, this is your opinion and your opinion only. If you are gonna say something stick to it don’t hide behind locations.

        • Jason
          June 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

          Buddy, you have no idea. Anytime you want to tangle with an active duty Marine, let me know.

          • Matt K.
            June 3, 2013 at 11:52 am

            Well, that sure as hell explains a lot. I bet you’ve got “wandering eyes” in those USMC mens locker rooms, don’t ya? lol

  14. Letlow
    June 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Congratulations to all the graduates!!!! This is truly a step forward for the entire Antelope Valley. So proud of these courageous young people!!!!! Thank you Mayor Parris for sponsoring this worthwhile event. We can finally agree on something.

  15. Jason
    June 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Are you kidding me? We are spending time on this crap? Disgusting.

    • Please
      June 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      What do you mean “WE”? As far as I am aware, no one is forced to spend time on anything… “THEY” chose to spend their time in this way. And THE AV TIMES chose to report on it.

      • Jason
        June 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm

        Thanks liberal. Man I miss Southern California. Not.

        • Please
          June 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm

          Funny… You ASSUME you can tell my political affiliation because I don’t find justification in your insult. And you think calling me a “liberal” is somehow an insult as well.

          Southern California is better without you.

          • Jason
            June 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm

            It obvious. California is down the tubes, look at your elected officials. On another note, not a bigot AVGirl, just a Christian.

          • Please
            June 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm

            So because your imaginary friend said that something is wrong thousands of years ago, you can’t deal with the fact others believe differently?

            People like you can use religion to justify any atrocity or hate, but never bother to use their religion to justify love, tolerance, and respect.

          • Jason
            June 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm

            And it’s obvious you haven’t read the bible. God is all about love moron.

          • Please
            June 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm

            I have read the bible… Which is in large part why I am an atheist. However, what I was talking about was how people like you ignore the “love” component of their religious texts and only spew the hate the same book justifies, just like you are doing. You are no better than the Westboro Baptist wackos.

          • Please
            June 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm

            So is it a requirement that you have to be a bigot (i.e. someone like you) to serve? I think not. You claim to have fought for our freedoms and at the same time you make it abundantly clear that you think how some people choose exercise those freedoms is “disgusting”. So maybe you have yourself to thank for all of the things you disapprove of….

          • Please
            June 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm

            That argument is a fallacy. You are intolerant towards large generalized groups of people whose rights you wish to deny but who are not infringing on yours. I am not trying to preach “tolerance”. You can hate who you want. However, you want to act on your hate and infringe on others, promoting inequality in liberty and freedom. You want to selectively deny the rights (not privileges, rights) of people you disagree with and accuse us “libtards” of being intolerant because we stand up for equality.

            I am not against you having an opinion. I am against what you are trying to achieve based on your opinion. I recognize your right to an opinion and just because we are in disagreement does not mean I want to deny you any rights, constitutional or otherwise. But you want to use your prejudice as a means to deny American citizens equal rights. If taking a stand against that is “intolerant” then I am proud to be so.

          • Jason
            June 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm

            Prejudice? How about disgusted. Save your argument, you lover of all things that are moral/immoral, for a Cal Berkley rally.

          • Please
            June 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm

            Only if you save your disgust for a Westboro Baptist protest.

          • Jason
            June 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm

            And I am not tolerant because my Bible tells me not to be on subjects such as these. Why do you think our Country is headed in the direction that it is? Because we are tolerant of everything right or wrong these days.

          • Please
            June 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm

            Your bible also tells you how to treat the slaves you are entitled to own (Ephesians 6:9/Colossians 4:1), to stone children who talk back to their fathers (Exodus 21:17/Deuteronomy 21:18-21), to not eat pork and shellfish (Leviticus 11), to rape the wives of slain enemy soldiers (Isaiah 13:15-18/Deuteronomy 20:10-14), and various other “moral duties” which I am sure even you would agree are atrocious. Even wearing a poly/cotton blend (Deuteronomy 22:11), women wearing pants (Deuteronomy 22:5), tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), working on Sundays (Exodus 31:14-15), and shaving your face (Levticus 19:27) are sins, just to name a SMALL fraction.

            Also, you claim to be Christian, but Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.

          • Jason
            June 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm

            Taken way out of context and mostly inaccurate. And the bible does say that a man laying with another man is an abomination.

          • Please
            June 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm

            The bible says it is an abomination in the old testament (before Jesus)… Jesus, on the other hand, says nothing about homosexuality.

          • Jason
            June 3, 2013 at 8:38 am

            Jesus is God smart one.

        • AVGirl
          June 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm

          What is disgusting is that there are still bigoted ignorant people still around.

          • Jason
            June 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm

            Glad to never go back to this socialist/liberal state.

    • Keith Hunter
      June 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      oh great, A Queer Graduation !! Whats next !!

      • Jason
        June 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm

        Probably a Man Boy Love Association graduation.

        • lulu belle
          June 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm

          Jason, don’t think it won’t happen…a person told me once that we never would have thought the gays would become a society that makes everyone accept their lifestyle no matter how disturbing it is, and he said don’t be surprised if the MBLA doesn’t become normal eventually. In fact, marrying your daughter will probably be next. The morals of society are based on the premise if it’s what I want to do then you have to accept me. I don’t accept this life style, I don’t want to know who you lie with, anymore than I would a man and woman telling me their bedroom secrets. Just because we as thinking people don’t agree does not make us bigots, it makes us thinking people. Jason is right on in his comments he has that right, so accept us since you cram your agenda whether it’s pink or purple down our throats. No one hates you, just the things you feel you should be allowed to do in public.

    • AVGirl
      June 2, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Perhaps you should read the description of a bigot before you proclaim innocence.

      Please don’t pick and choose which items in the Bible you wish to follow. Would you follow Deuteronomy 25:5, Leviticus 19:19, Leviticus 11:10 or Leviticus 19:27. Yes most of these are from the Old Testament, but so is Leviticus 18:22 (“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”) So explain to me why you cherry pick which things you want to follow and disregard the rest?

      Don’t hid behind your religious beliefs.

      • Jason
        June 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm

        What? You don’t make sense. You present an argument against homosexuality and then follow it up by stating not to hide behind religious beliefs. Maybe if more people did hide behind their religious beliefs we wouldn’t be reading trash articles like this. Again, America is losing it’s identity. And yes, I am a sinner, but one that’s saved by the grace of God. Stand for something.

        • AVGirl
          June 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm

          Obviously you have reading comprehension issues. I will be a little less obtuse.

          You are picking which passages you wish to follow, when I pointed out the Bible is full one ones that seems silly. Why latch onto one and not the other?

          I never made a case against homosexuality, only that it is part and parcel of the Old Testament, which most people do not follow.

          • Jason
            June 2, 2013 at 5:34 pm

            It’s the word of God. No comprehension problems, speak clearly and we won’t have an issue.

Comments are closed.