2018 Grand Marshals

Deb Abbott

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Deb Abbott is known for her big heart, her bold ideas, her longtime commitment to social justice, and her passionate dedication to building community spaces from the ground up. Santa Cruz Pride is pleased to honor her as one of our Grand Marshals of 2018.

Deb Abbott was born and raised in Monterey, California. She migrated to the north end of the bay to attend UCSC in the early 70’s. She has lived in Santa Cruz ever since.

Deb’s activism began as a child when she baked cookies for her dad and his coworkers as they walked the CWA picket line--striking for better wages against the Bell Telephone Company. During middle school she picketed Safeway stores with the UFW (United Farm Workers). In high school she was active in demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Along with local activists, including Miss Steak, she protested the Miss California beauty pageant until it was driven out of Santa Cruz. Deb has also been involved in various disability rights campaigns.

While many have heard of LUGs (Lesbians Until Graduation), Deb was a lesser known LAG (Lesbian After Graduation). Deb had her lesbian epiphany when she was in her early 20’s, working in the queer women’s haven of the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Collective. At the time, she was married to a man and had two sons. She found so few resources to help her in her coming out journey, she decided to write a book on the topic. Along with writer Ellen Farmer, she co-authored the anthology “From Wedded Wife to Lesbian Life.” The book featured the stories of 47 women who transitioned from heterosexual marriages into lesbian relationships.

Deb became licensed as a psychotherapist in 1991 and began seeing LGBTQ folks in her counseling practice. For many years she led groups for formerly married lesbians. Deb was one of the first in the area to work with transgender and gender diverse clients. More recently, along with psychologist Chrissann McCann, she has offered the TransLove Support Group for the partners of trans people. She works in her private practice today, providing accessible counseling to the community she loves.

Twenty six years ago, Deb was one of the founding mothers and first directors of WomenCARE, a local resource center for women with cancer. WomenCARE was part of a national movement of feminist cancer centers, launched and led by many queer women. WomenCARE is alive and thriving. Deb currently co-facilitates a weekly group for newly diagnosed women there.

In 1997, Deb became the first director of the Cantú Queer Center at UCSC. Along with program coordinator Tam Welch, and countless student interns, she grew the center from a dusty cabin full of duct-taped furniture into a vibrant hub of queer life and culture on campus and beyond. Deb was committed to having The Cantú collaborate with The Diversity Center and other queer community organizations. In 1999, she wrote the first grant to fund Project STRANGE for local queer/trans middle and high school youth. UCSC has been consistently ranked in the top 20 U.S. universities for LGBTQ+ students. Deb retired from being the campus’s “career queer” in 2015.

Deb has received many awards over the years. She was most honored by the 2003 Santa Cruz County Woman of the Year Award. She was presented the award in the state capitol by Santa Cruz’s mayor, John Laird, one of the first ‘out’ gay mayors in the country. Deb was likewise proud to have earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Diversity Center in 2014.

Joe Cosentino

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We are honored to name Joe Cosentino as one of our 2018 Grand Marshals. Joe believes in visibility.  He believes in unity. He believes in caring.

Mostly, he believes in, and lives up to, answering the question “who can get this done” with the answer “why not me?”

He has proved to be the one who has stepped up.  Born in Brooklyn, raised on Long Island, he found his true community in Santa Cruz. From hosting HIV online support groups, to helping support the Gay Men’s Volleyball, to creating one of the most popular Surf City AIDS Ride rest stops, Joe is the guy who makes things happen.

For the past seven years he has been one of the pillars to make the Queer Youth Leadership Awards the significant event it is.  He became its Volunteer Coordinator in 2011. While his work that allows the Awards to happen at all is enormous, it is his heart that leaves the greatest impression.  He is a beacon of love to all who volunteer and work under his inspiration.  He does so from a well of gratitude so deep that he himself cannot feel he truly masters its expression.  In his words “I am constantly expressing heartfelt gratitude to the volunteers who make things happen.  I get so overwhelmed by their creativity, camaraderie, and generosity (on so many levels) that I feel I can't adequately express to them my thanks - as anyone who has watched me speak at the QYLA volunteer appreciation dinner can attest.  Yet I keep trying.  Not only do I thank them profusely for their help, but I also have been making more of an effort to say, "Thank you for being exactly who you are."  That has become my greater mission.”

We are fortunate to have such a leader in our community.  He is one who embraces the bullied, the sick, and the ones looking for purpose.  He is the one to look for the individuals who feel terminally unique to let them know they are not alone.  He is the one who reminds us that we need each other.  Again, in his words, “There's so much to do, and while the "what" is important, it's all moot without the "how."  We must work toward unity.  We tried disunity in 2008 and 2016 and look what it got us.  We need to find a way to the largest number of us saying "Yes."  We need to convince those who hold out against the greater good because they say that's just not good enough.  They don't seem to get that the greater good is a step toward the greater great.  There's nothing we can't accomplish if we are unified.  All we have to do is out-organize, out-work, and out-love those who oppose us.  That's all.”

It is for these accomplishments, and for the wonderful sweetness of this man, we are pleased to honor him as one of our Grand Marshals of 2018.  

 

Mia Duquet

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Mia Duquet is a beloved member of the Santa Cruz community. She is known for her positive outlook and generous spirit. She is fun-loving and spontaneous. Mia loves to travel and has been to Alaska, Africa, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Canada, Guatemala and Europe. She traveled to Haiti in 2004 after the hurricane with the intention of making a documentary film.

Mia loves bicycling, hiking and camping. She loves to celebrate her winter birthday in Death Valley or in the Sierra mountains. She played basketball in women's pick up games and coached basketball for seven and eight year old girls. Mia loves to surf and taught many women to surf over the years. And then there was that one time she went skydiving!

Mia was born in Pennsylvania, spent her high school years in Puerto Rico and eventually found her way to Santa Cruz in 1979 after a time in Boston.

Mia was employed by the City of Santa Cruz Parks Department for 30 years. Her talents, skills and hard work helped beautify West Cliff, Lighthouse Field, City Hall and the median strips throughout Santa Cruz. Her beautiful landscaping work for the City drew the attention of Sunset magazine and was featured in an article.

Mia lived for 17 years as caretaker at the Cabrillo College Stroke Center at Delavega Park in Santa Cruz. Her landscaping skills and talents kept the Stroke Center grounds beautiful for the many patients to enjoy over the years. Because of her caring spirit she initiated and organized a fundraiser to help raise money for the Stroke Center's much needed new roof.

Always dedicated and active in the community, Mia created The Cycle-ogical Kinetic Art Parade – an art bicycle parade on Pacific Avenue. She was involved in organizing the annual Earth Vision Environmental Film Festival. Mia participated in the AIDS Ride in 2008, bicycling from San Francisco to Los Angeles, raising over $2500 in donations. She also helped AIDS riders as they passed through Santa Cruz in other years.

Mia's great love and care for the environment and of her community has always kept her busy – very often behind the scenes. Mia is not one to join boards or volunteer behind a desk. She likes to help those in need one-on-one, quite shy of a spotlight. She's an advocate for the environment, for the LGBT community and for social justice issues.

In November of 2016 Mia was diagnosed with brain cancer. Her diagnosis has not slowed her down. She's since traveled to New York City and Canada and very recently to Morocco with her sister Kati and friends. Despite her challenging circumstance she continues to embrace and celebrate life.

Mia has a bright smile and a big heart. Her generosity is evident to her friends, acquaintances, strangers and even to visitors of Santa Cruz. Those who passed her on West Cliff as she worked in the mornings always got a smile and friendly word. Mia is known to so many in Santa Cruz not necessarily because they know her personally but because she has a smile for everyone. Mia represents the best of Santa Cruz.

Therefore it is with great pleasure that we declare Mia one of the Grand Marshals of 2018 Pride.