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Julie Derrick Oral History Interview

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Julie Derrick Oral History Interview


In this interview, Julie Derrick speaks about her life and time as a Lesbian Avenger. She starts by talking about her origins in Twin Falls, Idaho, and she speaks of wanting to leave her small town to move somewhere bigger where she can be herself. She recalls that when her eldest sister came home from college with the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack and New Wave music, that is when she felt hope that she’d make it out of the small towns she grew up in. When she graduated from high school, Derrick decided to go to college at the University of Idaho in Moscow; she majored in communications and graduated in 1989. After coming out as a lesbian in 1992, she joined activist groups and learned about the Lesbian Avengers in Portland, Oregon. She reflects back on the fear and anger she felt directed at the LGBTQ+ community in the 1990s which stemmed from her own experiences with the Oregon Citizen’s Alliance and Neo-Nazi groups in Portland that would gather outside the Lesbian Avengers headquarters.

Appreciating the Lesbian Averngers’ goal to give a voice to marginalized groups, including queer people, she wanted to be part of their change. What she liked about the Lesbian Avengers was that they were punk and a call for action group that elevated marginalized voices. Derrick then explains that after coming out to her mother, who felt like she did something wrong that led to Derrick being a lesbian, her mother met Derrick’s chosen family. Her chosen family was a group of queer kids who had been abandoned by their families. Her mother saw this and she more or less adopted the kids as her own and this revelation led to Derrick and her mom becoming even closer. Derrick shares that she moved to Corvallis in 1995 to join her partner at the time, DJ Travers. Derrick goes on to talk about her time as a teacher for the Corvallis Montessori school while her partner was a student at Oregon State University.

In 1995, Derrick, Travers, and other members of the community in Corvallis particiapted in the first meeting of the Lesbian Avengers Corvallis chapter. She then speaks about the actions of the Lesbian Avengers in Corvallis, such as the Fire Eating at the day-long vigil in front of the OSU Memorial Union. This was in reaction to the murders of Roxanne Ellis and Michele Abdill, shot to death in a hate crime at the end of 1995. Lastly, Derrick talks about her current life in Portland and her business as a shoe cobbler. The interview concludes with a reflection from Derrick in which she reads a small biography she wrote in a zine called “Necessary Friction” in the mid-1990s, and she talks about how she’s changed since her Lesbian Avengers days.

Julie Derrick was a member of the Portland Lesbian Avengers and helped create the Corvallis chapter of the Lesbian Avengers. Additionally, she is one of the first female queer shoe cobblers in Portland, Oregon. Derrick grew up in Twin Falls and Orofino, Idaho with her single mother and two sisters. Surrounded by forests, Julie played outside with her sisters on her grandparents’ property in rural Idaho. Derrick attended the University of Idaho in Moscow, majoring in Communications. She graduated in 1989 and stayed in Moscow, working alongside protest groups against the wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador and doing anti-racism work in Idaho.

In 1992, Derrick ‘came out’ as a lesbian and quickly got involved in activism surrounding LGBTQ+ politics; one of these groups was the Lesbian Avengers in Portland, Oregon. She moved to Corvallis in 1995 with her partner at the time, DJ Travers, and got a job at Corvallis’s Montessori school while her partner went to college. During this time, things were bubbling up about LGBTQ+ politics in Corvallis and at Oregon State so Julie, Derrick, and a handful of other students and community members got together in November of 1995 and started a Corvallis chapter of the Lesbian Avengers. After a few years in Corvallis, Derrick moved back to Portland and decided to open up a shoe cobbler shop. Though she isn’t as active as she was in the 1990s, she currently does equity work around privilege and whiteness, especially alongside her son, who is black.


Julie Derrick


OSU Queer Archives Oral History Collection (OH 34)


Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries


February 16, 2020


Laura (Love) Rathbun, Molly Aton and Madilyn Sturges


Born Digital Video




Oral History



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Laura (Love) Rathbun, Molly Aton and Madilyn Sturges


Julie Derrick


Valley Library, Oregon State University

Original Format

Born Digital Video



OHMS Object

Interview Format


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