Rainbow Convocation speaker encourages LGBTQ students to ‘dream big, take risks’

May 17, 2022

Each year, Arizona State University holds several convocations to recognize the achievements of a wide variety of students, including international students, Hispanic students, military veterans, and more.

The Rainbow Convocation is held to celebrate graduating LGBTQ+ students. The convocation, originally dubbed the Lavender Convocation, was created in 1995 by Ronni Sanlo, director of the University of Michigan’s LGBT Campus Resource Center.

Speaker Anne Kotleba addresses the ASU Spring 2022 Rainbow Convocation. Photo by Amber Victoria Singer/ASU
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Lavender is an important color in LGBTQ+ history. It is a combination of pink and black, which represents the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps and the black triangle that lesbians wore in Nazi homes at the Source of Life. During the LGBT civil rights movement, these symbols of hate were combined to create a symbol and color of power and community.

At ASU, the Lavender Convocation is called Rainbow Convocation, and on Tuesday, May 10, graduates gathered for celebration in the Senita Ballroom of the Student Pavilion to be honored for their achievements. Attendees were presented with the official rainbow lanyard and tassel and heard from various speakers, including the keynote address from the Faculty of School of Community Resources and Development Lecturer Anne Kotleba.

Kotleba talked about going on a series of trapeze class dates with a woman who would eventually become his wife. She compared learning to navigate a trapeze to experiencing similar life lessons; like enduring the climb, pulling someone when they need it, enjoying the ride, and loudly cheering others on.

“As you walk through this world, dream big. Take risks,” she said at the end of her speech. “If you feel yourself falling, remember there is a net to catch you and a jubilant troop at your side.”

After the event, Kotleba said she wants every LGBTQ+ student to know that there is a great community of people at ASU who support and love them.

“Addressing the Rainbow Convocation was such an honor. Events that showcase and celebrate our diverse student body are so important,” she said. “I am so grateful and hopeful for this incredible next generation. I can’t wait for them to take over the world!

The School of Community Resources and Development is based in Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Written by Amber Victoria Singer, student journalist at the School of Community Resources and Development.

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