A group of 18 students from schools across Fresno State were hooded with rainbow banners today in a first for Fresno State: a lesbian, gay, bi, transgender and questioning graduation ceremony.
“I was really inspired because I noticed a lot of openly gay people, but we didn’t have a ceremony of our own, a reception of our own,” says Curtis Ortega with Fresno State’s United Student Pride Club. “We were kind of there as openly gay students, but I felt we needed our own expression and graduation ceremony.”
The graduation follows the example of similar ceremonies at CSU Northridge and Caly Poly San Luis Obispo.
Peter Robertson, with the Bulldog Pride Fund, remembers what it was like to be a gay student at the university when the club first began 27 years ago.
“We were a little bit on guard," Robertson says. "Our group was always taunted and called names and spit on us. It was kind of scary times, but this group keeps getting up and keeps going."
Robertson says the graduation is a feat for Fresno State. He also says acceptance for LGBTQ+ people at the school has grown tremendously.
“I think it has become a lot more mainstream, which is nice – a lot more accepted,” Robertson says.
Fresno State President Joseph Castro attended the event and said he looks forward to making LGBTQ+ graduations a tradition at Fresno State.