Graduating Virtually

Graphic by Kate Korepova

Story and Video By Pete Ramirez

In order to protect ourselves from COVID-19, much of our lives and work have been pushed into virtual settings. Austin Community College’s spring 2021 commencement was no different and was also forced to be held virtually. 

ACCENT wanted to check-in with students graduating during this unusual time, so we reached out to a pair of recent ACC graduates, Emily Pesina and Ashley Silva. ACCENT editor-in-chief, Pete Ramirez, spoke to both graduates to understand what their graduation experience was like and what they had planned for the near future.

A picture of a smiling young woman named Ashley Silva. And a small screen with a picture of a smiling young man named Pete Ramirez.
Ashley Silva, a recent Austin Community College graduate and recipient of the spring 2021 Chancellor’s Student Achievement Award, speaks to ACCENT editor-in-chief, Pete Ramirez, about the her graduation experience.

Four ways Austin Celebrates LGBTQIA+ Pride During A Pandemic

Written by Emily Pesina

During times like these where staying indoors could potentially save your life and others; many public events, restaurants, and social gatherings have moved to a virtual platform. One of the largest annual traditions to be affected this year is Pride Month. With this year marking the 50th anniversary of the nationally recognized celebration members of the LGBTQIA+ community and others make every effort to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. Which is considered a tipping point for this movement in the United States, according to the Library of Congress. 

In previous years, you could find people celebrating in colorful pride parades, parties, and other large social gatherings. However, with more than two million people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States, alternative options have been made to still celebrate Pride as well as keep people safe and healthy. Here are four ways the Austinites have celebrated Pride month this year local events, nationally, and globally.

Thee Gay Agenda

Check out Thee Gay Agenda (TGA), a queer art collective based in ATX. TGA has hosted virtual events through Zoom such as “Thee Stay Homo Series”, a variety of queer creatives that call for bringing the LGBTQIA+ community closer while in quarantine. Thee Gay Agenda also focuses on uplifting LGBTQIA+ voices by sharing artwork of various local artists. TGA described this as “a culmination of expression and a celebration of queerness in the face of objection.” in order to combat hate comments sometimes left on their page.

Currently, TGA and Austin Black Pride have been working together to create “Thee Learning Factory Fund: a set of funds that are allocated to subsidize the cost of materials and classes for Black and queer individuals who wish to participate. This includes journals, tarot decks, jump rings, stained glass materials, and more.” in order to help those who want to participate in their series. If you’re interested in this unique, interactive, and knowledgeable fun group, check them out at their Instagram or website,, for Pride events in June.

UT Austin Lavender Graduation and ACC LGBTQIA+ Pride Demonstrations

While many graduating students completed their final courses behind a screen rather than on campus this academic year, the University of Texas at Austin formed a Lavender Graduation ceremony. On May 20, UT Austin held this ceremony on Facebook Live to honor the achievements of graduating Longhorns who are also a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. The event included speeches from UT faculty, staff, and students, a care package that included a Lavender Graduation Certificate, a rainbow tassel, and a virtual cupcake.

“One of the ways you can celebrate pride is by owning a rainbow look. Whether that is owning a flag or wearing a pin,” said Whitney Stone, ACC dance Major. Like many others, Stone also plans on celebrating Pride Month virtually this year.


Annually, May 17 marks International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia, and Intersexphobia (IDAHOBIT). Usually, a day where people come out for marches of Pride and awareness-raising events about the harassment that the LGBTQIA+ community faces, this year people stayed in while being openly-queer on social media. Connected through the hashtag #IDAHOBIT, the community united globally as people went from sharing selfies with rainbow-painted cheeks to raising awareness of discriminatory-attitude events.

“I try to celebrate the accomplishments of LGBT, but it’s more of not just in June, but throughout the year,” said ACC graduate, Margo DeAlva.

DeAlva is the creator of ACC’s LGBTeQuity, AND an award-winning LGBT star award for her courageous achievements such as her self-made documentary Transtastic

“It’s important for everybody in this time, whether for pride month or throughout the year, to reminisce over your accomplishments,” DeAlva added, “It’s not selfish to talk to your loved ones about it and just be like “Hey, how did you feel when I first told you I was this or that, and what do you think about it now?” Although many societies around the world have progressed in acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community, there remain battles left to fight.” DeAlva said. 

@virtualpride2k20 on Instagram

@Virtualpride2k20, an Instagram account founded by Kiara Fox, is hosting a month-long virtual event taking place in June that strives to unite the LGBTQIA+ community in providing not just community, but a youth-driven grassroots movement. 

On their Instagram page, various social media stars such as Eugene Yang from the Try Guys, Raquel Bagwell, a well-known content creator for the app Tik Tok, and many others share their experiences being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community as well as host self-care days, and history about this community. To participate in this global event you can tune in to @virtualpride2k20’s EST Instagram/Twitch live streams, and post on social media with the hashtag corresponding to the day’s activity.