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

School of Community Resources and Development lecturer compares achieving in life to mastering the trapeze

ASU Lecturer Anne Kotleba speaks to the spring 2022 Rainbow Convocation.

Lecturer Anne Kotleba addresses the spring 2022 ASU Rainbow Convocation. Photo by Amber Victoria Singer/ASU

May 17, 2022

Each year, Arizona State University hosts multiple 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 LGBT Campus Resource Center at the University of Michigan.

Lavender is a significant color in LGBTQ+ history. It’s a combination of pink and black, which represents the pink triangle gay men were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps and the black triangle lesbians wore in the Nazi Spring of Life homes. During the LGBT civil rights movement, these symbols of hatred were combined to create a symbol and color of power and community.

At ASU, the Lavender Convocation is called the Rainbow Convocation, and on Tuesday, May 10, graduates gathered for the celebration in the Student Pavilion’s Senita Ballroom to be honored for their achievements. Participating attendees received the official rainbow cord and tassel, and heard from a variety of speakers, including the keynote faculty address from School of Community Resources and Development Lecturer Anne Kotleba.

Kotleba spoke of participating in a series of trapeze-class dates with a woman who would eventually become her wife. She compared learning how to navigate a trapeze to experiencing similar life lessons; such as enduring the climb, pulling someone up when they need it, enjoying the ride and cheering loudly for others.

“As you move forward into this world, dream big. Take risks,” she said at the end of her speech. “If you feel yourself falling, remember, there’s a net to catch you and a cheering gaggle by your side.”

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

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

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

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

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