The GSC’s Lavender Graduation registration poster for the UIC’s 2021 graduating class. A purple border with lavender plants in all corners as well as the top center on a plain white background. The GSC logo is at the top, followed by the Lavender Graduation title and headline below. In smaller text is the information about the graduation, date, RSVP link, and the UIC Honors College logo as the Co-Sponsor for the event. At the bottom are the GSC social media links for the website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

We are extremely excited to announce that the 2021 UIC Lavender Graduation keynote speakers will be Janaé Bonsu and Ash Stephens! This will be the first time that graduating UIC doctoral students will deliver the keynote address. Janaé and Ash are activist-scholars engaged in important campus and community work. We are honored to have them at this year’s Lavender Graduation.

Lavender Graduation is a celebration of the academic and personal achievements of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual + (LGBTQIA+) graduating students and their supportive communities. The event is open to all graduating students from every college at UIC. Lavender Graduation supports the attraction, retention, and successful graduation of many LGBTQIA+ students each year.

We hope that you can join us in celebrating our UIC graduates at this annual tradition along with Janaé and Ash on Friday, May 7, 2021 starting at 5:00 p.m. (CST). The live virtual celebration will take place via Zoom and real-time captioning (CART) will be provided. Please RSVP below.

Thank you to our co-sponsor, the UIC Honors College.

Janaé Bonsu; Keynote Speaker

(She/Her) is an activist-scholar, licensed social worker, and PhD candidate at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Her research focuses on the intersection of interpersonal and institutional violence among Black people of marginalized genders, and the impact on survivors’ safety-related empowerment. Bonsu’s work is grounded in her personal experiences as a violence survivor and a commitment to an abolitionist praxis that does not rely on policing for safety. Bonsu’s political home is with BYP100, a national member-based organization of 18 to 35-year-olds organizing through a Black Queer Feminist lens.

Social Media Handles

Twitter | IG: @janaebonsu

Janaé's Personal Website

Ash Stephens; Keynote Speaker

(He/They or Ash) is a writer, Trans activist-scholar, and PhD candidate at UIC in the Department of Criminology, Law and Justice with concentrations in Black Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies. His dissertation research focuses on Trans, Gender Nonconforming, and Nonbinary people’s experiences of policing and surveillance, as well as their strategies of resistance. Ash is also a member of the student-led Abolition@UIC collective, a board member of the Transformative Justice Law Project, and manager of policy & strategy at Transgender Law Center. Originally from Georgia, and finding a second home in Chicago, when he’s not dreaming towards our abolitionist future he’s usually “watching a Marvel movie or playing Nintendo Switch.

Rae Chardonnay; Lavender Graduation DJ

(She/Her) Rae Chardonnay is an arts manager and sound artist from Chicago. She is the Founder of Black Eutopia (est. 2013); a series of segmented programming intended to cultivate space for marginalized communities. She is also a co-founder of the award-winning Party Noire, a cultural hub centering Chicago’s vibrant Black Queer creative communities and enterprises. Rae was recently noted as one of Chicago’s Top 5 DJs by NPR, and Chicago’s Best DJ by the Chicago Reader. She has circulated many spaces to share her musical styling techniques opening and curating for acts such as Janelle Monae, Jamila Woods, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Madison McFerrin, Megan Thee Stallion, OSHUN, Tiffany Gouche, CeCe Peniston, J Rocc, Just Blaze, Little Dragon, Big Freedia and many others.

Social Media Handles

IG – @raechardonnay
FB – Hey Rae Chardonnay