The LGBTQ+ Center put on their seventh annual Lavender Graduation at GC on Friday, April 28. The graduation recognizes the seniors in the LGBTQ+ community.
Florrie McCard, a senior French major, will be speaking at the ceremony.
“For me, this event is really representative of both my own personal growth over the past four years, as well as the accomplishments of the LGBT+ seniors here that are graduating,” McCard said. “I’d like to think that we are past the point that being gay is a taboo thing and controversial.”
Growing up, McCard struggled with identifying herself as gay.
“I [had] wondered about my sexuality though middle school and high school,” McCard said. “I got to college and thought, ‘OK, maybe I’ll figure this out.’”
During her sophomore year of college, McCard’s struggles started interfering with her daily activities.
“I really felt like I didn’t have anyone at GC that was out and someone I could identify with,” McCard said. “I was a CA, and I thought, ‘Well, I can’t be a CA and be gay.’ I was a founding member of Delta Gamma, and I thought, ‘I can’t be a DG and be gay.’ I just felt that there were all these things I wanted to do, but I couldn’t without being truthful about myself. That might seem silly, but it didn’t seem silly to me at the time.”
McCard studied abroad in France during her junior year and suspected that would be her time to figure herself out.
“I told a few friends that I suspected it before I left because I didn’t want them to think that Florrie went to France and came back a lesbian because that wasn’t true,” McCard said. “I don’t think you have to go to a foreign country to find yourself, but I just felt in France that I didn’t have everyone’s expectations of me that I had in the U.S., so that’s why I felt that sort of freedom.”
After returning to GC for her final year, McCard decided to be open with everyone about her true self.
“It hasn’t been a secret,” McCard said. “If I’m telling a story about a girl or something, I won’t change the pronouns. Part of the reason I did that was because I thought maybe I could help people. People have come to me with questions about my story, and they have told me some of theirs, and then making that effort to be open about it is what led to this lavender graduation moment if you will.”
McCard said that back in August, she didn’t know if the Lavender Graduation was something to participate in.
“After I was asked to speak, I knew that this is my time to be that person that I’ve wanted to be since I was a sophomore,” McCard said.
Melissa Gerrior, program coordinator for GC’s Women’s Center, planned this year’s ceremony.
“The Lavender Graduation is a cultural ceremony that celebrates our LGBT+ and their allies’ graduations,” Gerrior said. “It [recognizes] students that might have faced certain challenges to overcome while they were in college and takes the time to recognize their accomplishments.”
Jennifer Graham, director of the Women’s Center, works closely with the LGBTQ+ community on campus.
“I think all of our students deserve to be celebrated, especially when they are graduating,” Graham said. “Sometimes the LGBT students don’t have the same level of support as some other students on campus, whether it’s from family or friends. The coming out process can be one that shrinks their community, so I think that makes it appear important that all of our students are celebrated and supported.”
At the graduation, McCard delivered her final words to the LGBTQ+ community and the GC community.
“I’ve accepted my truth,” McCard said. “I’ve claimed it in ways big and small...Now’s my chance to go out into the world beyond Georgia College and see how my truth truly can transform. And you know what? It may even make the world a little more beautiful along the way.”