Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Julie Derrick Oral History Interview, February 16, 2020

Oregon State University
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00:00:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: This is an oral history interview with Julie Derrick in Corvallis, Oregon for the OSU History 368 Lesbian and Gay Movements in Modern America oral history project.

Segment Synopsis: Julie Derrick introduces herself

00:00:29 - Family and Childhood

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Partial Transcript: When and where were you born, and where did you grow up it wasn't the same place as you were born?

Segment Synopsis: Julie shares that she was born, grew up and attended college. She was born in Twin Falls, Idaho. Her family moved around a lot, and eventually settled in town called Orfino in the north central part of the state. She went to college at the University of Idaho in Moscow. Julie describes what her family did for work and also talks about her relationships with her siblings. She also talks about she began to more actively embrace her queer identity in '92 and touches on how the Lesbian Avengers came together.

Keywords: childhood; family

00:09:20 - Coming out to family

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Partial Transcript: How did you tell your mom, or how did you tell your sisters?

Segment Synopsis: Julie discussed her mom's reaction to her coming out. She describes how her mom became more accepting of her identity. Her sisters were supportive and she found it easy to come out to them. She shares how her mom had a relationship as an elder parent to all of Julie's friends who had strained relationships with their families.

Keywords: coming out; family

00:15:08 - College

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Partial Transcript: Where did you go for your undergraduate and what was your major, and why did you chose that major?

Segment Synopsis: Julie talks about her college and her experiences there. She majored in Communications and had a History minor. In Moscow, she was involved in activism around the US sponsored wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador. She was also involved in anti-racist activism, as the Aryan Nation was very active in that area.

00:17:53 - Corvallis, Oregon

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Partial Transcript: When did you come to Corvallis?

Segment Synopsis: Julie was first involved with the Portland Lesbian Avengers when she came to Oregon. She describes some of the tactics that white supremacists used to intimidate and terrorize the group. She talks about how she met Derrick, and would visit him in Corvallis. She shares her experiences of being out, visible and finding community.

Keywords: Lesbian Avengers

00:26:36 - Origins of Lesbian Avengers

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Partial Transcript: We found this photo - these photos. Is this the first documented time that you were all together?

Segment Synopsis: One of the members used to be harassed in the Athletics department at OSU. So the group got together and had their first action at a Women's basketball game to support this person. They were all close friends and so they decided to take action. The Oregon Citizen Alliance's efforts to pass queerphobic ballot measures pushed the group to band together.

Keywords: Athletics; Lesbian Avengers

00:31:56 - No on 9

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Partial Transcript: So when you came to Corvallis, you got a job at one of the elementary schools here?

Segment Synopsis: Julie talks about her experiences as teacher. She she used to work at the Corvallis Montessori School when the campaign for No on 9 was happening. This prompted her to become more active as it was a personal issue for her.

00:36:23 - Lessons from being a Lesbian Avengers

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Partial Transcript: What has being a Lesbian Avenger taught you?

Segment Synopsis: Julie talks about the things she has learnt being a Lesbian Avenger. One of the things it has taught her is to the most good you can. The Lesbian Avengers really reaffirmed for her that you should always do the most you can with the energy and resources you are given, and make places better. She also learnt to recognize magic when you're in its presence, and go for it.

Keywords: fire eating; lessons

00:41:01 - Proud moments from being a Lesbian Avenger

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Partial Transcript: Any moments you were particularly proud of that the Avengers did?

Segment Synopsis: Julie talks about a particular action that stands out to her. This was the vigil that happened after the murders of the lesbian couple Roxanne Ellis and Michelle Abdill in Medford, Oregon. Another action that stands out to her was an action with MEChA that happened around Mom's Weekend.

Keywords: MEChA; Medford; Michelle Abdill; Roxanne Ellis; hate crimes

00:41:28 - Eating Fire

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Partial Transcript: Can you talk about swallowing fire?...Can you describe the feeling? The power you felt?

Segment Synopsis: Julie also touches on the Lesbian Avenger's practice of swallowing fire, and her experiences with it and what it means to her. She shares that it was a brilliant device to unify the Lesbian Avengers.

Keywords: eating fire

00:49:44 - Lesbian Avengers Visibility

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Partial Transcript: Did you feel unsafe as a Lesbian Avengers while in Corvallis and on campus? Since you were a part of so many public events that were obviously being photographed for all the newspapers, both Corvallis and OSU.

Segment Synopsis: Julie talks about what it was like to be visible and public as a Lesbian Avengers member. She shares that there were times she feared for Derrick's safety more than her own. She also describes some of the self defense workshops that they took.

Keywords: Alpha Gamma Delta; visibility

00:54:08 - Lesbian Avenger's impact on OSU and its views

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Partial Transcript: While you were here did you see OSU shift its views on any LGBT things based on what you were doing?

Segment Synopsis: Julie talks about the connections and alliances they made with other groups such as MEChA and the Black Students Union when they were active. She feels that their activism has resulted in a more accepting climate for LGBTQ+ students on campus today.

00:56:18 - Third Wave Feminism and the Lesbian Avengers

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Partial Transcript: How do you think the Lesbian Avengers played its part with the third wave feminist movement?

Segment Synopsis: Julie talks about the Lesbian Avenger's relationship with third wave feminism.

Keywords: third wave feminism

00:58:30 - Similarities and differences with other kinds of activism

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Partial Transcript: Have you seen activism that is similar to the Lesbian Avenger's activism in recent years?

Segment Synopsis: Julie talks about some of the similarities of the Lesbian Avengers activism with activism today. She also describes the Corvallis Lesbian Avengers' relationship to the other Avengers chapters. She shares that the Corvallis group has a focus on trans justice in ways that other groups did not. Julie also talks about her involvement in the labor movement, union activism and migrant labor activism. She is currently organizing an association of cobblers.

Keywords: SEIU; activism; cobblers; labor; trans; union

01:07:33 - Julie's work as a cobbler

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Partial Transcript: What do you do now? Can you talk about your job, and what if feels to be the only queer female cobbler in Portland?

Segment Synopsis: Julie talks about some of the previous work she has done, and her current work as a cobbler. She talks about how her queerness intersects and shapes her work as a cobbler.

Keywords: cobbler; labor; union

01:10:21 - Julie's son Arthur

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Partial Transcript: Can you talk more about your son, and how have you taught him to be more involved in social justice?

Segment Synopsis: Julie talks about her son Arthur and how he has been raised.

01:12:22 - Julie reads her bio from the Avengers zine Necessary Friction

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Partial Transcript: I wanted you to read your bio that you wrote in this, and if you still identify with this, and what are your thoughts?

Segment Synopsis: Julie reads a bio of herself from an issue of the Lesbian Avenger's zine Necessary Friction, and reflects on it.