Virtual lavender graduation celebrates LGBTQ+ students this week

By Alejandro Flores

Los Angeles Community College District held its third Lavender Graduation this week. 

Despite being held virtually, the ceremony was filled with cheers and applause for the graduating students of 2021. 

Emcee Joshua Wentz’ vibrant personality gave extra magic to the event when he sang Lady Gaga’s “Born this way.”

The Board of Trustees congratulated the students for their hard work and dedication. Los Angeles City Mayor, Eric Garcetti spoke in a pre-recorded video message reminding the attendees that inclusion and togetherness is the way to bring one another up and succeed.

LACCD Vice President and  first openly LGBTQ+ board member David Vela, cheered on the graduates who accomplished an educational milestone during a pandemic. 

Vela had the graduates take a moment to reflect on every challenge they had to overcome to reach this goal. 

Keynote Speaker of the ceremony California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said how proud he is to represent the LGBTQ+ community in any setting he finds himself in. 

Lara shared how one should never have to give up their dreams and goals, “If somebody told me 20 years ago, I’d be standing here today, I would have never believed them,” Lara said.

Student Trustee and proud member LGBTQ+ community Elias Geronimo said how the Los Angeles City College District has been instrumental in his process to achieving his dreams. 

Jamey Sinardi of Los Angeles Pierce College shared how she struggled with academia in the past and how Pierce College resources enabled her to persevere.   

East Los Angeles College graduate Nadia Noemi Martinez shared how essential personal growth and self acceptance is to living a happy life.

The event drew over 225 attendees from across all colleges in the districts. Even without a stage, all the graduates appeared excited to be completing their community college journey. 

Their faces filled with smiles and pride as they were being recognized. Supportive messages from family and friends poured through the chat, one after another. 

The experience, although different, was possibly more personal. Being able to see the graduates reactions made the experience feel more intimate than being seated 200+ feet away like in a traditional ceremony. 

Another plus from the  graduation taking place in a  virtual setting is the fair distribution of time in between the graduates names being called. 

The closed captioning at the bottom of the zoom screen even allowed for a multimodal approach of receiving the information.

 The closing musical performance, a classic rise anthem “Make them hear you” interpreted by The Gay Mens Chorus Of Los Angeles, made the Zoom chat fill up with emotional messages. “The Spanish part really got to me’’ one graduate wrote. 

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