May 07, 2019
Susquehanna University held its first-ever Lavender Graduation Ceremony, an event to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally students by acknowledging their achievements and contributions to the university.
The celebratory scene was one that David German ’84 could scarcely have imagined when he was a student, and he shed some happy tears at the sight of it.
“This is very moving for me,” German said. “It’s really quite amazing how things have changed.”
German described his college experience as fulfilling, but lonely. A member of SU’s track team, a resident advisor and active in drug and alcohol awareness initiatives, German was a popular student on campus. He had many friends both on and off the track team. But he never felt free to truly be himself.
As he told the crowd assembled at the ceremony, it wasn’t until after he naively endured conversion therapy that left him feeling suicidal that he finally found his way out of the darkness.
Today, he is happily married to his husband, Andrew, and they have two sons, Ben, 17, and Matthew, 12. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
He said he has high hopes for the future of the current graduates.
“It doesn’t mean all is good,” German said. “There may be students who aren’t out to their families, who were afraid to come. I think that would have been me 35 years ago. But I hope everyone came tonight who wanted to.”
Each graduating senior at Susquehanna’s ceremony received a lavender cord to wear during next week’s commencement exercises, if they choose. Lavender is the chosen color for its significance to LGBTQ history. It is a combination of the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear in concentration camps and the black triangle designating lesbians as political prisoners in Nazi Germany. The LGBTQ civil rights movement combined these symbols of hatred, making them symbols of pride and community.