by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
The road to Commencement can be challenging for members of the LGBTQ community, and strong support can make all the difference. As these class of 2017 members geared up for the big day, they joined with peers and mentors to celebrate all they’ve done and become during the past four years on campus during the Lavender Reception, now in its fifth year at Dickinson. Held every April, it marks a milestone for graduating students who identify as LGBTQ, and their allied peers, mentors and educators who’ve made a difference to them.
“We believe it’s important to provide a space to honor those graduating students not only for their scholastic achievements, but for their successes, challenges, obstacles and achievements as they navigated their time at Dickinson as a member of the LGBTQQIA+ community,” said Erica Lawrence, college dean and director of the Office of LGBTQ Services. “It celebrates them not only for what they have done, but for being authentically who they are during their time at Dickinson.”
The 2017 reception capped a milestone academic year for Dickinson’s LGBTQ community, arriving just six months after the campus rallied to fight for LGBTQ rights in Carlisle.
The April event included a graduation ceremony, an opportunity for seniors to thank those who’ve offered support and an award ceremony honoring Dickinsonians who’ve advocated for LGBTQ-identified community members and have been engaged in social justice work. The 2017 OUTstanding Service Award was presented to Katherine Schweighofer, visiting assistant professor of women's, gender & sexuality studies, and Liam Fuller ’17. Angie Harris, associate dean of students, and Sam Moller ’17 received the 2017 Ally Recognition Award.
Advocate/activist Gabe Martinez ’08 delivered the keynote address.
A Spanish major and New York Posse Scholar at Dickinson, Martinez recalled his time as a Dickinson student who studied abroad twice, served as a resident advisor and Office of Diversity Initiatives intern and was a founding member of Dickinson’s chapter of Sigma Lambda Beta as well as the Hypnotic dance team. He also discussed his career as director of clinical services to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Central Florida, where he advocates for members of the LGBTQ community and for those living with HIV.
Published May 23, 2017