The annual NC State Lavender Graduation was held on Thursday, May 8, 2014. Lavender Graduation is an annual ceremony to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally students and to acknowledge their contributions and achievements. GLBT Center staff members Justine Hollingshead, Natalie Nguyen, Julius Perkins and Adam Ward, as well as many student staff members, took part in conducting the event.
Following timley, thoughtful and reflective remarks by speaker Tim Blair of University Housing, the ceremony included the presentation of graduates as well as the GLBT Center’s annual awards: the Rachel L. Turner Rainbow Ally Award, which was given to Lucas Kessler (also nominated: Ben Stockdale); the Thomas H. Stafford Lavender Leadership Award, which was given to Dani Lechner (also nominated: Alex Grindstaff); the Evelyn Q. Reiman Outstanding Ally Award, which was given to Nancy Whelchel (also nominated: Marian Fragola, Barry Olson); and the It Gets Better Award, which was given to co-winners the Health Center and the Counseling Center.
The program also included a ceremonial crowning of NC State's new "Queen of the Pack." Long a tradition in the GLBT community, the art of drag has symbolized activism, freedom and sexual identity and expression for the GLBT community. Student Samuel Byrd, who has performed at the GLBT Center's annual fall Cabaret as Carmen Elektra, has been affectionately known as the "Queen of the Pack." Now moving on, he bestowed the crown onto Adam Ward, also known as Lily Diva-ine, who will continue the tradition next year.
A special award was given this year to Justine Hollingshead by the GLBT Center staff for her service to NC State over the past six years in creating an inclusive campus for GLBT students, faculty and staff as well as advocating for equality both at NC State and in the greater Raleigh community. We congratulate Justine on her new position in the Division of Academic and Student Affairs (see article at left).
For more information about NC State's GLBT Center, see the GLBT Center website.