“What I’ve learned as a gender non-conforming person, rather than failing to be a man or woman, I’m triumphing in being myself,” Vaid-Menon said.
“To live a life without categorization is not actually chaos; it’s complete and utter creativity.”
Alok Vaid-Menon, writer and performance artist
Universities and colleges like Babson hold Lavender Graduation in recognition of achievements of graduating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally students. The ceremony was originally established by Dr. Ronnie Sanlo, a Jewish lesbian who was denied opportunity to attend her children’s graduations because of her sexual orientation.
The first Lavender Graduation was held at the University of Michigan in 1995. Today, more than 400 Lavender Graduations are held throughout the country.
In their address, Vaid-Menon evaluated the definition of success in life.
“So much of what we’re trying to do in the world is to break binaries, not just of gender and sexuality but of success and failure,” Vaid-Menon said. “The fact that you are alive today is already a success; the fact you’re here today is already a success.”
Vaid-Menon also challenged graduates to “find power in your metaphorical legacy.”
“How do I still live even when I’m dead?” Vaid-Menon asked. “I know that I will have created a corpus of work that surpassed the confines of my body. That is a queer performance tradition, that my performance act continues when I’m gone.”
Jamie Kendrioski, director of International Services & Multicultural Education, said he hoped students found value in Vaid-Menon’s words.
“I hope they felt and always feel important and powerful, because they are,” Kendrioski said. “I can’t wait to see how these members of the Centennial Class of 2019 continue to positively impact Babson and the world!”
“We hope that in times of great success you will remember the strength you gave here through struggle, and in times of struggle, we hope you remember the courage and the community you learned to create right here at Babson,” said Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Sadie Burton-Goss.
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