LANCASTER – Hundreds came out to the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds Saturday (May 31) for AV PRIDE 2014 – an annual event celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) people in the Antelope Valley.
The festival kicked off at 1 p.m. with Lavender Graduation, a ceremony honoring the academic achievements, courage and pride of local LGBTQ and straight ally students graduating from elementary through college.
“If you look at the statistics, LGBT students are not focused on where they’re going to go to college, they’re not focused on their future career goals, they’re focused on survival when they’re in high school,” said OUTreach Center Board President Sanie Andres. “For us to be able to honor that with Lavender Graduation is such a positive step for our community.”
Eleven of the 18 Lavender Graduates were present for the ceremony, and they represented high schools from across the Valley, as well as Antelope Valley College.
Overcome by emotion, Andres encouraged the students to advocate for the next generation.
“Thank you so much for being brave, courageous, willing to be out, willing to be proud of yourselves, and for being an example to us of what we wish we could have done in our youth,” Andres told the students. “Thank you for being role models, thank you for being future parents, future professionals… teach the next generation, teach your children to be better than we were, to be better than the generations before us were,” Andres continued.
Congratulations to the 2014 Lavender Graduates!
Daniel Alvarez, Littlerock High School
Nestor De Los Rios, Antelope Valley College
Gerali Diaz, SOAR High School
Jackee Famularo, California Virtual Academy
Jazmine Lagunas Guerrero, SOAR High School
Mina Halim, SOAR High School
Faith Hobby, Antelope Valley College
River Jackson, Quartz Hill High School
Aniyah McDaniel, Vista San Gabriel Elementary School
Zander Morales, Littlerock High School
Christian Pineda, Highland High School
Alexander Rodriguez, Eastside High School
Stephanie Sandoval, SOAR High School
Sam Seghetti, Saugus High School
Andrew Taban, Canyon High School
Selene Valencia, Antelope Valley College
Mercedes Witt, SOAR High School
Sutan Wright, Opportunities for Learning
Traditionally hosted on college campuses throughout the nation since 1995, Lavender Graduation recognizes the accomplishments of LGBTQ and straight ally students.
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. Saturday’s ceremony was the second Lavender Graduation held in the Antelope Valley.
For many more pictures from AV Pride 2014, visit our Facebook page.