With its progressive culture and new UC campus, Santa Cruz in the 1970s was a magnet for people wanting an alternative college experience. This continued into the 1980s with activism led by lesbian feminists. In 1974, the UCSC women’s studies program formed followed by the Women’s Health Collective in Santa Cruz. In 1971, Alan Sable became the first UCSC professor to come out to his class followed by Nancy Stoller in 1973. The queerness of UCSC continues today, striving for a safe and affirming place for professors, staff, and students. LGBTQ+ activists and advocates grew out of student experiences at UC Santa Cruz. After graduating, many students stayed in Santa Cruz to create inclusive experiences in our County.
Because UCSC was billed as kind of an alternative campus from its inception, it drew queer students, even though it took a few years in the beginning to be a visible presence.
Deb Abbott, First Director of the UCSC Cantu Center
It was an exciting time for everything queer in Santa Cruz - that period of the 1970s.