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Pride Month is a time to be proud of our progress, and committed to making more

This year’s Pride Month marks the 50th anniversary of Seattle Pride, which makes this an extra special one for me in the city where I’ve built my life, pursued my career and met and married my spouse. Progress for LGBTQIA+ rights – including the right to celebrate who we are in all our incredible diversity – has marched forward since I first arrived here in 1986; at that time, I certainly wouldn’t have believed that an openly gay woman could aspire to the role of UW president. But the 50th anniversary of Seattle Pride is a warm reminder that even as far back as the 1800s, the gay community in Seattle has carved out space for people to live authentically, and that enduring legacy is a part of why I love my home so much.  

Today, we are fortunate to benefit from the bravery and sacrifice of all the LGBTQIA+ pioneers throughout history and all over the world who fought against discrimination. And we can honor their legacy by continuing to work for acceptance, equality, dignity and safety for every person regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. While Seattle may be a largely safe space for people to live and work without fear, there are many places where that is not the case, and indeed, where efforts are underway to make it less comfortable and safe for marginalized people to live openly or authentically. 

As a University, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that our campuses and communities are welcoming  places in which students, faculty, staff, friends, neighbors and visitors can be themselves. For many UW students, our campuses are the most diverse place they’ve yet experienced, and a fundamental part of the Husky Experience is finding pathways for self-discovery. For LGBTQIA+ students, that journey can be as complicated as it is liberating, and we work to ensure that resources like the Q Center and the Office of the Title IX Coordinator are available to support them in finding community and feeling a sense of belonging.   

The phrase “Pride Month” evolved in the wake of the Stonewall Protests as gay rights activists explicitly rejected the notion that anyone had to be ashamed of being themselves. This radical-at-the-time idea has been a transformative and liberating force for countless people, including me. This Pride Month, I hope we can all take pride in being members of a community that recognizes difference as a strength and welcomes people for who they truly are. Our UW community is one that I am deeply proud to be a part of as we continue the work of making the world welcoming and safe for all people.