Lavender Graduation and intersection on campus

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

On Mach 26, the LGBTQIA+ Resource Center will hold their annual Lavender Celebration at the Midtown Ballroom. Marking its 11th year occuring at Tech, the event aims to honor graduating students who have greatly contributed to a more positive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and asexual individuals on campus, recognizing attendees with various awards. 

The Lavender Celebration originated when Ronni Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian, was refused from attending her child’s college graduation because of her sexuality. Primarily held in 1995 at the University of Michigan where it honored three graduates, the custom has spread to more than 200 institutions, including Tech.

Tegra Myanna, Director of the LGBQTIA Resource Center, oversees the event. They explain how the ceremony honors those who have experienced Tech as a part of this community. 

“It is an opportunity to honor our LGBTQIA and allied graduates … whether they were a student who was here and is LGBTQIA and navigated Tech with that identity or they’re someone like an ally who’s been heavily connected or involved in the community,” Myanna said. 

Individuals with varying marginalized identities have a unique experience on a college campus. Intended to meet needs of commonly excluded individuals, the resource center works to combat heteronormative and patriarchal norms across campus by celebrating the contributions of an inclusive environment.  

“We recognize graduates with Lavender Awards which are our annual awards that we provide to students, faculty, staff and alum who have made significant contributions to belonging as it relates to LGBTQIA communities at Tech,” Myanna said. 

The Institute continually works to honor students on their achievements, and specifically in relation to overcoming societal adversity. 

“I think that it’s very important to celebrate the queer community and specifically as a Black woman,” said Efiotu Jagun, third-year PUBP. 

Seen in various iterations today like the Lavender Celebration, the color of lavender has transformed from a symbol of cruelty into a one that celebrates queer resistance to a historically  oppressive heteronormative society. 

“Lavender has been the color of the LGBTQIA community for a long time. Back in the 70s, there was the Lavender Menace, an LGBTQIA community for a long time,” Myanna said. 

Amidst second-wave feminism was a rising exclusion of queer women and female identifying individuals in the movement. In turn, a group of feminists formed to voice their concerns, reclaiming and rebutting themselves as “The Lavender Menace.” With inclusivity being paramount to advocacy, the Lavender Celebration welcomes anyone to attend, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The center strives to make a community that is not only inclusive, but welcoming.

“You don’t have to have been involved with the resource center heavily to engage in the Lavender Celebration. We try to make it a really open and inclusive event — kind of a celebration of your [student] accomplishment in the time here at Tech,” Myanna said.  

The event will be composed of an awards ceremony and various speaker deliverances. 

“It honors the graduates and we do a ‘queer year in review.’ This year it’s also our [the LGBTQIA Resource Center] 10-year anniversary, so it’s going to be a decade in review,” Myanna said on the event’s happenings and history. 

Beyond the Lavender Celebration, the center continues to celebrate its decade anniversary through various events throughout the semester. On March 29, the resource center will be hosting a film screening during the upcoming global media festival. 

“‘Alice Júnior’ is the film that we’re watching. We’re going to do a discussion after the event with creators of the film and also trans and non-binary actors to discuss what it is like to be in the industry,” Myanna said regarding plans for the upcoming event. 

Finally, to officially celebrate the center’s 10-year anniversary, the resource center is hosting a Center Day at the Smithgall Student Services Building 

“It’s kind of a stop-by, check out the organizations at Tech related to queer and trans community and engage in what we are. It is meant to be very open, very community focused,” Myanna said on the event’s nature. 

Events like these commence the coming years of celebrating student’s identities and accomplishments at Tech. 

“It’s really important to be visible and outspoken in celebrating in college, because they did work hard for that degree,” Jagun said. 

Those who want to attend the Lavender Celebration can RSVP online via Engage. This can be found online at To get more involved in the resource center, individuals can follow the LGBTQIA+ Resource Center’s Instagram @gt_LGBTQIA  and sign up for their monthly newsletter to stay up to date on LGBTQ+ events and programs happening around campus. Learn more about the Tech LGBTQIA Resource Center at