Every college student experiences culture shock, whether it’s moving in with a new roommate or
moving to another state or country; minorities at Eastern Nazarene College struggle with
adjusting to a new campus and new peers. Each year at ENC, a commemoration ceremony is held for
minority students with a multicultural event that recognizes their heritage and academic
achievements. The LGBTQ community deserves the same appreciation at ENC. Lavender
Graduation allows lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and ally students the opportunity to honor
their accomplishments and contributions to their college.
Hundreds of colleges in the United States hold an annual Lavender Graduation. Schools like
Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, and Boston College give their LGBTQ students the chance to
celebrate their contributions. On record, only Saint Mary’s College of California, a private
Catholic school, hosts a Lavender Graduation every year, according to the Human Rights
Campaign. ENC would be the first private Nazarene college to allow all their minorities, including the LGBTQ community, to be publicly recognized.
The color lavender represents LGBTQ history. In Nazi concentration camps, gay men were
forced to wear a pink triangle patch, and lesbians wore a black one. Since then, lavender is a
symbol of pride and community for the LGBTQ. At almost every pride event, protesters preach their faith in Christianity, along with their hatred towards same-sex relations. The protesting and constant reminders of the Bible and the word sin have created generalized assumptions that Christianity lacks acceptance.
According to the official website of the Church of the Nazarene, they believe “that every man or
woman should be treated with dignity, grace, and holy love, whatever their sexual orientation.
However, we continue to firmly hold the position that the homosexual lifestyle is sinful and is
contrary to the Scriptures.” At a Christian campus like ENC’s, the LGBTQ community might feel
less open about their sexuality due to this stigma.
Sabrina Zerbey, a junior at ENC and a member of the LGBTQ community, states, ‘she wouldn’t bring it up if she had a girlfriend or if she liked girls,’ referring to the community outside of her basketball
team. She transferred from the west coast, and within her first month at ENC, she’s already
experienced people who don’t agree with her sexuality. Zerbey also believes that a Lavender
Graduation can open the minds of those who don’t understand the LGBTQ.
According to ENC Theatre Program Producer and social justice advocate Tara Brooke Watkins,
“having a Lavender Graduation that says we see the journey you’ve taken and we honor that you
got here today and we love you.”
If a Christian institution like ENC ends up having a Lavender Graduation, it’ll ultimately make the
LGBTQ students feel more at home even if their own family doesn’t accept them. It’ll also give
them a chance to practice their faith and even build a stronger relationship with God.
Essentially, being a Christian campus that hosts a Lavender Graduation would empower a community of students who, Tara acknowledges, “just want to be safe, accepted, and loved for who they are.”