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Sister Mothra Stewart delivered the “Welcoming” at the Southern Illinois University Lavender Graduation, celebrating the university’s LGBTQ graduates. A record number of queer and trans students registered for this year’s Lavender Graduation. In 2022, Sr Mothra delivered a benediction for the ceremonies, giving a few on the campus a bit of indigestion. Apparently, some in the SIU community feel that a clown-drag nun delivering a blessing undercuts the solemnity of a serious graduation celebration.
This year, as the university deals with a staffing scandal in its Student Multicultural Resource Center, including the loss of its very successful LGBTQ Resource Center Coordinator, Sr Mothra took advantage of the opportunity in “welcoming” the graduates to remind the community how to keep the queer in LGBTQ QUEER.
Leaning into the history of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and her involvement with Gay Spirit Visions, the moth nun called on graduates to reclaim spirit in whatever ways that resonated for them and to resist calls for the community to assimilate and yield to a respectability politics. Noting the 650+ pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation being considered in 46 states this year, alone, Sr Mothra called on graduates to continue their hard work by fighting for true diversity, equity, and inclusion.
She then schmoozed with some of the very university administrators who have tried to “tone down” the fabulousness of the campus queer community, and she took lots of selfies with graduates and their families/supporters. It was a fabulous time that never lost its focus on celebrating SIU’s LGBTQ graduates. It’s a good thing!