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LGBTA commencement ceremony honors distinguished graduates

While most graduates usually feel pride in their achievements, the LGBTA Center is showcasing those who have a different kind of pride.

Sunday, Ohio University’s LGBTA Center presents Pride Graduation and Community Celebration, a commencement and awards ceremony that honors graduating members of the LGBTA community, according to a press release

The ceremony originally began as an informal dinner that Mickey Hart, director of the LGBTA Center, hosted at his home for graduating seniors. Seniors would dine together and then have a chance to be recognized and share their experiences.

In 2000, after Hart became head of the LGBTA Center, he made the event what it is today, which Hart call “elegant, but casual.”

The evening begins with dinner and a slideshow of pictures of the LGBTA Center events held during the year. Hart said that, even though the event has become more formal, the dinner portion of the evening is still reminiscent of the less formal event.

“When it comes to formal events like these, you see everyone trying to rush through dinner, and that’s where this differs,” Hart said. “I believe this part is important because the discussions and social aspects are important. We take our time.”

Following dinner, each senior is recognized and awarded a rainbow tassel and an Ohio University LGBTA alumni pin. They are also invited to share their best experience at OU and future plans. Keeping with the theme of graduation, superlatives are also given out such as “Most Fabulous” and “Most Out-Loud and Proud.”

A raffle is held at the end of the evening, and knitted rainbow-themed door prizes, created by graduate assistant Nancy Baur, are given out.

Hart said that having that type of separate celebration is important to the LGBTA community.

“I think that obviously there is commencement, but this is a little more special and a little more personal,” said Hart. “It’s a good way to bring closure to some things.”

Adam Russell, a senior studying French and European studies, echoes Hart’s thoughts about the graduation.

“I’m excited to finally be able to walk across the stage,” Russell said. “I think events like these create a further sense of unity in the community.”

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