Fresno City College’s Allied Staff and Faculty Association to host Rainbow Graduation Celebration

Flyer+detailing+FCC%27s+Rainbow+Graduation+Celebration+hosted+by++the+Allied+Staff+%26+Faculty+Association.++Flyer+courtesy%3A+AlliedSFA%27s+Twitter+Page

Flyer detailing FCC’s Rainbow Graduation Celebration hosted by the Allied Staff & Faculty Association. Flyer courtesy: AlliedSFA’s Twitter Page

Story By: Krystle Nozartash, News Editor

Fresno City College’s Allied Staff and Faculty Association will hold their first “Rainbow Graduation Celebration” virtually on May 15, 2021 from 2 to 3 p.m. 

President and co-founder of the FCC Allied Staff and Faculty Association since 2019, Arien Reed, decided a “Rainbow Graduation Celebration” was something he wanted to do to celebrate the hard work the LGBTQ students have accomplished and give them a time, “to be seen.” 

Reed, who had been reaching out to his associates, said a lot of people agreed to the idea, but no help was volunteered until a week ago. 

Thanks to Reed’s one volunteer, the Rainbow Graduation Celebration will go on virtually via Zoom.

“It’s a little bit of a scramble, it’s a little bit of last-minute planning, but we’re going to make it happen and we hope it’s going to be great,” Reed said.

Reed claims part of the issue is needing to be more visible when advertising and not only through social media such ASFA’s Facebook

Flyers by mail and emails are also being sent out, according to Reed.

Jalana Gage, an FCC student majoring in library technology, said she registered for the Rainbow Graduation Celebration when a library tech instructor posted the flyer to Canvas.

Gage said she supports the event and hopes for it to become traditional but feels like it is somewhat playing into rainbow capitalism.

In rainbow capitalism, also known as Pink Capitalism, companies use the LGBTQ pride flag to make a profit off the queer community. 

However, Gage explained that the Rainbow Celebration looks less rainbow capitalist because students do not have to purchase anything from ASFA. 

Overall, she believes seeing people of the queer community out and proud, especially for those who hide it, will be a “fun thing” and gives LGBTQ students a chance to be acknowledged. 

In addition, Gage hopes this celebration is the beginning of a brighter future for FCC.

“Giving them [LGBTQ students] a sense of belonging can save more lives than people might realize. Making it traditional allows for a continual feeling of belonging,” she said.

Gage also said there should be similar events for others who also have difficult times due to being part of a marginalized community such as black, Indigenous, people of color, first generation students and students with disabilities.

FCC’s LGBTQ student club is small and the ASFA is just a few years old with minimal resources, according to Reed. 

However, with the Rainbow Graduation Celebration being held virtually on Zoom, Reed believes it will be easier and having one volunteer is doable. 

In addition, the ASFA was able to secure a grant from OUT Against Big Tobacco, by the Equality California Organization

The Rainbow Graduation Celebration requires volunteers and funding but the ASFA did not have either until this year. 

The funds from OUT are being used to send out rainbow stoles, tassels, cords and possibly a few other goodies to the LGBTQ graduating students who registered for the celebration, according to Reed.

“I wanted our students to feel celebrated to be seen. This has been a difficult year and I wanted us to end on a positive note,” he said.

For Reed, the importance of this celebration is to recognize FCC’s LGBTQ students and their accomplishments, because in some people’s cases, it can be difficult to be both a student and LGBTQ in America. 

Any student who identifies as LGBTQ can register to be celebrated but only graduates will receive the goodies.

The event is open to anyone who wants to watch. 

However, they must register on Eventbrite and the Zoom link will immediately be available.

LGBTQ+ students must register by May 1, 2021 to hopefully get their rainbow “swag“ in time for the event. 

According to Eventbrite, packages should start arriving between May 10 – 24.

Reed said the rainbow graduation items may be late because they are being shipped to the ASFA first, then repackaged into discreet packaging and sent to students. 

During registration, students will have the option to send in a picture and type a little bit about themselves or what they like.

 Reed said a slideshow with the photos and what the students wrote will then be created.

Reed encourages students to send in a photo that shows their authentic selves rather than the original graduation pose.

 “You know, some people like to dress up really goth, strike a cool pose or put on their favorite dress and strike kind of like a sexy pose, and just whatever expresses themselves and makes them feel more like, ‘This is me. I’m being seen as myself,’” he said.

Reed hopes students have a great time and that the event will help the LGBTQ+ students feel recognized, celebrated and acknowledged for their hard work.

For next year, Reed fears it’s going to be more difficult and will need more volunteers, but still intends to make the Rainbow Graduation Celebration traditional to FCC.