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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Deborah Abbott: Out in the Redwoods, Documenting Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender History at the University of California, SAnta Cruz, 1965-2003

  • Author(s): Reti, Irene H.
  • Brashear, Regan
  • Abbott, Deborah
  • et al.

Deborah Abbott is a writer, health activist, teacher, river guide and current director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center at UCSC. Since assuming her position in November of 1997, she has given new shape and direction to the Center. As an American studies major, I was eager to interview  Deb Abbott. Deb Abbott to learn more about the queer history of UCSC, as well as about her work within two local feminist health organizations: the Santa Cruz Women's Health Collective and WomenCARE (which she cofounded in 1992). I had read several of Ms. Abbott's essays on pursuing her passion for river rafting, despite her physical disability, and these had deeply resonated with me, as I had been struggling to reconcile my own physical health problems with my dreams for the future. We met at the GLBT Center on the rainy afternoon of February 7, 2002. The Center hums with the richness of the many hours of mental and physical labor'by student volunteers and paid staff'that have gone into creating a place where all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and queer-identified people and their allies can take refuge. UCSC's reputation for being one of the most 'queer-friendly' campuses in the U.S. is easily understood when one enters the Center. Colorful posters brighten the walls, along with flyers announcing upcoming queer events and numerous lists to get involved with the many, diverse, queer-related groups on campus. An exhibit on GLBT African Americans hangs in the gallery. The enticing library of books and films, and the inviting couches that look out into the redwoods all serve to foster an atmosphere of welcome, creativity, and dynamic engagement.'

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