CELEBRATING IN CEREMONY

Whether it’s college graduation or ordination, ceremonies are a celebration of the entire person. Lavender Graduations and the stoles representing membership to the LGBTQIA+ community are especially empowering given the history of exclusion in both faith-based and educational institutions. David, the designer of the Iowa pride banner featured in the exhibition and matching t-shirt, was publicly outed in his final year of university in the 1970s here in Iowa. He was told his university record would note his sexuality in order to prevent him from getting hired as a teacher. Recognition and celebration of one’s true self is still an important part incorporated into garments for celebratory moments that have historically excluded or oppressed members of the LGBTIQA+ community.

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Graduation robe, lavender graduation stole with triangle motif; Owner – LGBTQIA+ Student Success Center at Iowa State University; c. 1990s

Graduation robe, Fashion & Culture Research Lab at Iowa State University

“Lavender Graduation started around 1997 or 1998. The first 15 years of the program [the Lavender Graduation] we gave rainbow tassels that you would add, but you could not wear it at graduation. They didn’t allow you to at the official graduation ceremony because each college has its own tassel. I don’t remember what year it was, but what we realized was we could start wearing stoles. The stoles could be added and worn, and we got permission to do that and so we started giving the graduates stoles. The first year at Lavender Graduation, we had a 6 to 8 [students] participate where as now we have about 25-30 participate, and they get a stole that they get to wear at the graduation ceremony.” –personal interview with Brad Freihoefer, Director of the LGBTQIA+ Student Success Center at Iowa State University, September, 2017

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Graduation robe, lavender graduation stole with ISU motif; Owner – LGBTQIA+ Student Success Center at Iowa State University; c. 2010s

Graduation robe, Iowa State University’s Textiles and Clothing Museum

“The inverted pink triangle motif was the original stole, but we moved away from it because it resonated with students less and then also just more of an emphasis on participation of ISU.” –personal interview with Clare Lemke, Assistant Director of the LGBTQIA+ Student Success Center at Iowa State University, September, 2017

White long-sleeved alb, red stole with rainbow butterfly motif, white cincture; Owner – Jennifer (lesbian, genderqueer, 50, lives in Iowa); c. 2010s

“I wore this to my ordination.”

“To have both my in-laws there and then to have my mother-in-law make this [red stole with butterfly motif] and especially given the fact that he was so against me being a lesbian and a pastor. When I first told them I was going to seminary, it was just in a casual conversation at dinner. I didn't know it would cause that sort of disruption of our relationship, he said, "Well, I didn't they let, I didn't think churches let people like you in," and I said, "Well, they do, some of them." But he grew up Baptist and women aren't pastors and certainly not lesbians or you know queer people of any sort.” – personal interview with Jennifer, October 28, 2017

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