Howard University held the 7th annual LGBTQIA Lavender Reception, an official homecoming event, which celebrated the Howard LGBTQIA community and scholarship recipients.
At 6 p.m., on Oct. 19 the Armour J. Blackburn University Center Ballroom was filled with lavender-colored balloons, decorations, and lights. Refreshments were served and catered by Sodexo, who created a special lavender-colored drink just for the reception. The reception hosts were Vice President of External Affairs Jayda Peets of CASCADE, the oldest LGBTQIA student organization at Howard, and Vice President of Internal Affairs Windsor Bonds of CASCADE.
The event started with a ribbon cutting to celebrate the launch of the new Intercultural Affairs and LGBTQ+ Resource Center where President Wayne A.I. Frederick spoke on the importance of a “safe space” for all students here at Howard.
“Institutions like Howard are here to amplify other people’s humanity, and one of the things I want you to always remember is that we want you to be your full self,” Frederick said. “…I want all the spaces to represent you, to combine, and accept you the way you are.”
The Lavender Fund Scholarship is a way to financially support students who not only identify within the LGBTQIA community but also advocate on and off campus for LGBTQIA rights and visibility. It was founded in 2015 by Christopher Cross, Howard Alum, MS ’14, Ph.D ’19, when he was just a graduate student trustee.
“During that time, Obergefell had just passed, so marriage equality became the law of the land,” Cross said. “I had just finished working on ‘The Hill’ as a science fellow and when I came into my role of graduate trustee, I was like this is the perfect time for us to leverage the political climate to do something that can celebrate LGBT students.”
The reception’s keynote speaker was Amari Ice, a Howard Alum ‘12, gay love coach, hypnotherapist and number one international best-selling author of “Lasting Love at Last: The Gay Guide to Attracting the Relationship of Your Dreams”. Ice served as president of CASCADE from 2008 to 2011.
Ice spoke on a plethora of topics, but he highlighted how much progress has been made at Howard University in terms of supporting the LGBTQIA community here.
“When we think about how far the University has come, from student organizations to the university support…there are so many people in the room right now, who were here at a time where this wasn’t true, where we couldn’t be out on campus, where you couldn’t have a Lavender Reception, where there weren’t scholarships for LGBT students on campus,” Ice said.
Peets, a senior and Howard University Student Association (HUSA) Senate senator, was glad to see that there was active support being shown by the administration at Howard.
“This wasn’t on student government, this was on Howard University themselves. So just to show that the administration really does support us, is making those steps to make us feel comfortable, and recognize their students…Howard University is making me really proud of my school.” Peets said.
There were seven recipients of the 2022 Lavender Fund Scholarship. They included: Nia Goodall, Laten Jordan, Lowri-Ann Millings, Mia Rivers, and Eshe Ukweli. The graduate recipients were Leslie Hall and Jessica Hargrove. All recipients were able to receive a $1000 amount in their scholarship, with $7000 given this year in total by the Lavender Fund.
In 2018, 26 students applied to the Lavender Fund Scholarship and three of those applicants became recipients. In 2019, there were 18 applicants with four recipients chosen. This year, there were 24 applicants with seven recipients.
Associate Vice President of student affairs, Dr. Debra Bright thought that the Lavender Reception was a way to truly show support to the students.
“For me, this really an opportunity to celebrate, highlight, and support students of varying identities at Howard University, to let them know how important it is to us that they are here…,” Bright said. “This Lavender Scholarship that we’re giving is just another opportunity to let them know that we are invested in their success here at Howard and we want to do everything we can to support them.”
Jose Cadiz, Director of Intercultural Affairs and LGBTQ+ resource center, left the students with a “small tidbit” to keep in mind.
“To all of the students in the room, be you, you are one of one– the queen [Beyonce] said it– continue to do it, continue to be it, live it, breath it, and always be the voice for the voiceless and be the eyes for the individuals that are impaired, continue to fight for individuals that can not fight for themselves,” he said.
Copy edited by Alana Matthew