Lavender Graduation

Lavender Graduation


Lavender Graduation is a commencement ceremony honoring graduating LGBTIQA+ identified students and their allies. It is a cultural celebration that acknowledges the achievements and contributions that students of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions have made at Carolina. Recipients of the LGBTIQA+ Advocacy Awards are announced during the ceremony, which is followed by a catered reception.

This program is co-sponsored by the Program in Sexuality Studies and the Provost Committee for LGBTQ Life.


How to Participate

There is no cost to participate in or attend Lavender Graduation.

All graduating participants must register using the Lavender Graduation Registration form.

2020 Registration has been extended to Sunday, May 3rd, 2020 at 11:59pm (originally Wednesday, April 1).


Eligibility Requirements

Participants must be one of the following at UNC - Chapel Hill:

  • Undergraduate student
  • Graduate student
  • Professional student
  • Doctoral candidate

Participants must be approved to graduate in the most recent Fall semester or the current Spring semester.


2020 Ceremony Details


Date and Location

Originally planned for Sunday, May 3rd at the FedEx Global Education Center Mandela Auditorium.

Rescheduled to 2:00p.m. on Sunday, May 17th, 2020, via Zoom. Registered participants will be given a link to share with their guests.


Keynote Speaker

Alexis Pauline Gumbs wearing a pink blouse, large earrings, and glasses. She is holding a notebook and looking beyond the frame of the photo. Photo courtesy of Gumbs’s Facebook page.We are pleased to announce that Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs has accepted our invitation to give the keynote address for Lavender Graduation 2020. 

Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a queer black trouble-maker and a black feminist love evangelist. She walks in the legacy of black lady school teachers in post slavery communities who offered sacred educational space to the intergenerational newly free in exchange for the random necessities of life. As the first person to do archival research in the papers of Audre Lorde, June Jordan and Lucille Clifton while achieving her PhD in English, Africana Studies and Women’s Studies at Duke University, she honors the lives and creative works of Black feminist geniuses as sacred texts for all people. She believes that in the time we live in, access to the intersectional holistic brilliance of the black feminist tradition is as crucial as learning how to read.

With Alexis’s writing, books function as portals for expansive practices. Her texts on Black Feminism, mothering, futurism and imagination are currently in use in Black feminist classrooms, environmental strategy sessions, Afro-futurist afterschool programs, contemporary art museums, community healing spaces and more. 

Many thanks to 2020 co-sponsors The Carolina Women's Center and Arts Everywhere for their help with this year's ceremony.




Learn More About Lavender Graduation

Why Lavender?

Lavender is important to LGBTQ history. It combines the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear and the black triangle that lesbians were forced to wear while political prisoners in Nazi Germany. LGBTQ activists took these symbols of hatred, combined them, and created a symbol and color of pride and community.

How did Lavender Graduation start?

Now tradition at more than 200 colleges and universities across the country, Lavender Graduation began in 1995 at the university of Michigan. Ronni Sanlo, then the Director of the LGBT Campus Resource Center, organized the first Lavender Graduation with three graduates. She initiated Lavender Graduation after being denied access to attend her own children's graduations due to her sexual orientation and out of a desire to celebrate LGBT students. She has stated that her vision “is that Lavender Graduation will be an annual celebration at every college and university in the country and that the lives of our LGBT students will be fully honored.” 

Who can participate in Lavender Graduation at Carolina?

Undergraduate students, Graduate students, Professional students, and Doctoral candidates who graduated in the most recent Fall semester, or are approved to graduate in the current Spring semester.

Who can attend Lavender Graduation at Carolina?

Lavender Graduation ceremonies are typically open to the public. Participants are encouraged to invite their friends, families and loved ones. Individuals from departments and units that co-sponsor Lavender Graduation such as the Program in Sexuality Studies or the Provost Committee for LGBTQ Life, or from departments and units that work closely with the LGBTQ Center or LGBTIQA+ communities are also likely to attend.