UW News

June 21, 2018

Q Center’s Jen Self a grand marshal at 2018 Seattle Pride Parade

UW News

Self with group

Jen Self, a grand marshal in Sunday’s Seattle Pride Parade, talks to an audience at the Pride flag raising on campus.James Urton/University of Washington


The University of Washington’s Jen Self will be one of three grand marshals of Sunday’s 2018 Seattle Pride Parade.

“It’s really quite an honor,” Self said. “It’s very humbling.”

Self is the director of the Q Center, where since 2004, they’ve been advocating for students, staff and faculty who identify as LGBTQ.

Self, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, is a therapist and has been an anti-oppression educator since 1996. They moved to Seattle from Eugene, Oregon, in 2003, and started at the UW the next year. They re-invented their queer activism through scholarship, program leadership and teaching at the UW. In 2005, the campus opened the Q Center, the nexus of LGBTQ life on campus. More than a hangout space, the Q Center is a place to fight for social justice through a gender and sexuality lens, Self says.

By setting an example, they say, justice can be served.

“It’s doing the right thing over and over and over again,” Self said.

The right thing has meant fighting for the rights of LGBTQ students, faculty and staff. That includes starting Qolors, a program for LGBTQ-identified people of color; ensuring domestic partner benefits across campus; adding benefits for transgender people; providing gender-neutral restrooms and housing; and securing funding from grants and donors, among other projects.

Attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators to downtown Seattle, the Pride Parade is a colorful community festival complete with drag queens, scantily clad bikers and much more. It’s also a time to be among other LGBTQ-identified people and celebrate diversity. The day can be a powerful experience for many participants and spectators, Self said.

“In an instant, you can see something and change the way you understand yourself and your life’s trajectory,” Self said.

For the parade, Self is planning to wear a custom-made, sequined, rainbow-inspired cape and an anti-racism T-shirt.

“I hope people experience me as a person for whom racial and gender justice and cultural transformation are the guiding forces of the universe,” Self said.

All members of the UW community are invited to march together. More information about participating in the Pride Parade is available here.