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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

LGBTQ Affairs hosts Rainbow Graduation

The Office of LGBTQ Affairs will host its sixth annual Rainbow Graduation to celebrate graduating LGBTQ and allied seniors, as well as graduate and professional school students at the UA.

Chris Sogge, the primary coordinator and a junior studying sociology and gender and women’s studies, said graduates will receive rainbow cords, a certificate and will be the guests of honor at a reception with food and musical entertainment. Drag queen Lucinda Holliday, who has performed at every Rainbow Graduation, will also be there.

“Rainbow Graduation recognizes of all of the hardships that LGBTQ individuals face and is a way of moving past that and onto graduate success in life,” Sogge said. “It is a way to embrace your community and appreciate what you have done at the UA with all of your friends before you move on to your next steps in life.”

It is important to honor LGBTQ students because of the oppression many have faced, though the UA is fairly inclusive, said Sogge. Sogge also said he is most excited to see everyone crying when they get their certificate, bonding with their family and receiving support.

However, Randy Yazzie, a family studies and human development senior, said he isn’t looking forward to crying. Each graduate is asked to choose someone who will present them their cord and certificate as well as say a few words. Yazzie is being presented by his cousin.

“It is a mix of emotions — excitement, anxiety, and worry — because my cousin and I are really close,” Yazzie said. “I don’t want to start crying in front of everyone but if she starts crying, I am going to start crying.”

Yazzie, an intern for Pride Alliance, became involved in LGBTQ community events on campus as a way to discover himself and reach out to people who were at a greater risk of not being accepted, he said.

“During [my] time with Pride Alliance is when I established my own identity as a gay male,” Yazzie said. “Ever since then, it has had a special place in my heart so to participate in a graduation ceremony that is sponsored by LGBTQ Student Affairs is really meaningful to me.”

Yazzie also said the intimacy of the celebration is very meaningful.

“When you are LGBTQ, you feel like a small percentage of the UA population. And with the other commencement exercises that happen, it is easy to feel like a really small group that goes unnoticed,” he said. “Having something separate that is specifically for those who identify as such is really meaningful and I guess it makes us feel more comfortable being surrounded by people that are like us. It is a special gathering for us to celebrate being ourselves and this point in our journey.”

Christina Bischoff, an ecology and evolutionary biology senior, said she also feels a strong connection to the LGBTQ community. She said she became involved with Pride Alliance her first day of college and has helped plan Rainbow Graduation for the past three years as a committee member.

She said she is eager to participate in the ceremony as a graduate.

“It’s not just about getting to know people,” Bischoff said. “There is so much professional development, so many opportunities and network that has really changed the way I see people and my career goals.”

Bischoff, who will be attending Johns Hopkins University to earn her master’s degree in public health, said she won’t forget the “family” she has gotten to know over the past few years.

“Queer people tend to call each other family and I just really think that it is a good word to describe it,” Bischoff said. “We may only have one thing in common at first but it is still enough to develop friendships. It has always been a really close space and I’m really going to miss everyone.”

If you go:
Where: Gallagher Theatre (Student Union Memorial Center)
When: Today, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

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