Sarah Lopez Interview

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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SARAH LOPEZ: [inaudible] this session’s recorded.


LOPEZ: [laughter] Is it -- is this an extra water bottle? Or...?

ABBOTT: That one’s for you.

LOPEZ: I might want a second, actually. I’m a big water drinker.

F1: [overlapping dialogue; inaudible] From the [inaudible] you don’t have much left, so.

ABBOTT: [groan]

LOPEZ: I’ll just have one. [inaudible] Wet will do.

F1: This -- oh, it’s -- this isn’t cold. I’ll put it down here, just in case.

LOPEZ: That’s fine, sure. Thank you. [inaudible]

ABBOTT: Pardon?

LOPEZ: Does this get edited all by you or anything?

ABBOTT: No, no, no.

LOPEZ: [overlapping dialogue; inaudible]

ABBOTT: Basically what they will do is they’ll take the -- it’ll be transcribed and then you will have an opportunity to look at it, to make sure the spellings were accurate...

LOPEZ: Sure, sure.

ABBOTT: And you can edit it at that point.

LOPEZ: Sure. I just have one other request if possible. I’m short. And this seat isn’t going to be I don’t know if, maybe even if just something that I 1:00could put behind my back.

F1: And you need a cushion?

LOPEZ: If the cushion is easy then I can make something else work.

F1: I have a back cushion, if that helps.

LOPEZ: That would help. It’s just that that seat throws me back. I don’t think that I could --

ABBOTT: You need a little something a little more to kind of make you feel like you’re in the chair. They must have made this exactly for my body type.

LOPEZ: All right. [laughter]

ABBOTT: It works. [overlapping dialogue; inaudible]

LOPEZ: Put a little sign. If you’re ever to get rid of this, this was designed for me.

ABBOTT: So what I usually do is I ask about, you know -- [door slamming; inaudible]...

F1: Try, try that first.

LOPEZ: [inaudible] This, this is good.

F1: Is that OK?

LOPEZ: Yeah, great. Thanks.


F1: Move that there. [inaudible] Oh there it is. [inaudible] Let me just double check you’re in. In there, get us started.

ABBOTT: OK, [inaudible] started.

F1: That one’s going.

ABBOTT: OK we’re good.

F1: Here, on you go!

ABBOTT: We’re sealed in.

LOPEZ: We are good, aren’t we? [laughter]

ABBOTT: We are. So this is September the 5th, 2014. I’m Franklin Abbott, I’m speaking with Sarah LOPEZ: today. And that’s the basic information. So, what I usually like to do is start with asking to you about your family. You know, where your family was from, how your parents came together, where you were born, those kind of things.


LOPEZ: OK well, I was born in Puerto Rico. And my parents met in Puerto Rico. And they -- my father, my father’s family came from Spain and then as a young man, he moved to Puerto Rico. And my mother’s mother was Spanish, a little, I think, her mother lived in Puerto Rico. I mean her grandmother lived in Puerto Rico. But her father was an Irishman who, Mr. King, who came to work in customs and met my grandmother. And my parents met at a dance, which is very fitting since I’ve, I’ve kept that family tradition going, I mean, I love to dance; I’m probably the only one of the descendants who does. And they lived in a very small town in Vega Baja. V-E-G-A B-A-J-A. And although my mother was from a 4:00larger town in Puerto Rico. And my mother had polio as a child, and had to wear a brace and was teased, you know, [inaudible], bullied in school. And so she left school, I think by the 5th grade she dropped out. And she was very, very handy with her hands and she’d love to sew and was very industrious. So when she married my father and they had three children together and I was the youngest, she always wanted to be engaged in business of making clothes and sewing things and that kind of thing, and then in Puerto Rico in the ’40s and mostly the ’40s that was just not the appropriate thing for a woman to do. And patriarchy was quite strong, but not as strong as my mother. [laughter] And -- 5:00so she had to ask permission for everything. My father, who’s a good man, I have nothing -- I mean, he was a product of the culture, but you know, he could do, come and go as he wanted and -- and by the time I was three my mother decided to leave. And took my brother and myself and my sister to New York City. And in a prior trip that my father was going to take, my mother insisted that she go with him. And during that time, she said she wanted to work to make some money to buy gifts for the kids, you know, for us for when she returned, but actually she was going to see if she could work in a factory and support herself in New York and she found out that she could. So, because I was the youngest, in some ways the divorce and the move was the easiest for me. My sister, who was 6:0010, and had to start school not knowing any English and you know, leave significant roots. But we first came and lived in a cold water flat in New York City and shared the toilet with the family next door and so that was from three to seven. And then my mother remarried and we moved up to Washington Heights in New York, which used to be a Jewish-Italian neighborhood. And now it’s very Dominican, but it was quite different when I was there. And lived there until I was 15. And then we moved to Arizona.

ABBOTT: Arizona.

LOPEZ: Yeah, Tucson.

ABBOTT: Wow. So that, that --

LOPEZ: Yeah, I did not want to go.

ABBOTT: Three big hops.

LOPEZ: Yeah, yeah. I was very interested in theater and worked off-broadways and 7:00apprentice in high school, like you can’t take me away from New York and but I really loved it. And in New York, I would spend some summers apart, summers in Puerto Rico and in a little town and then in the city. I think that’s part of my being able to maneuver among different groups and be comfortable in lots of different settings. And I didn’t want to be Puerto Rican, so I also knew about that kind of internalized shame that weren’t, that I knew of I mean, Carmen Miranda were sort of it in terms of role models in this culture. So when I would go to a new neighborhood to meet guys I would take my mom’s maiden name, which is King and I’d be Sarah King, and just drop that because I got tired of hearing, “Oh, you don’t look Puerto Rican.” [laughter] You know? And when I moved to Tucson, my English teacher introduced me as the only Puerto 8:00Rican from New York City with a British accent. So in that time I think I’ve lost completely, but at that time, it was like I don’t want to be Puerto Rican, I don’t want to have a New York accent and but I think I, in Tucson, I came home to myself.

ABBOTT: How did that happen?

LOPEZ: Even though my mother remarried, my step father was not -- well he was supportive, but he wasn’t a strong, nurturing figure and I remember as a teenager getting into an argument with him and him saying, “Well you should be a lawyer, because you win every argument.” Until then that was in fact affirmation from a male figure and my father had remarried and had six more children. Because of the ease I think, in which I moved out of, in and out of different places, when I got to Tucson mid junior year I was very popular and 9:00got elected to student council the next year. And then we see this -- it was a Catholic, co-ed school and I had received a -- it was like the -- the May pr-- May procession where one senior girl was identified as the Blessed Mother and then another was identified as her, you know, her attendant. And then each class had, you know, the May attendant. And so I was -- you know, selected as the May attendant. And the one level that really surprised me, because I hadn’t been the most, in one level, very spiritual and very -- good student, hard worker. At another, I think, as a -- well, it’s me, I can say as a first generation, but 10:00I felt that I wanted things that didn’t come naturally. So I had done some cheating in school and finally got that I was really cheating myself and so, and fortunately for myself, I never got caught. I had done some shoplifting as a teenager. I had smoked in New York City, you know. And I got to Tucson and I was like, this is a totally wholesome environment and only certain girls smoked and all this stuff. And also I had gotten, this was my fourth high school. I had gone to very kind of elite Catholic girls’ school, where I lived with my cousin on Long Island and I didn’t like it. Then I went to a Catholic high-- girls’ high school in New York City with very, very strict Italian nuns and I didn’t like it. Then when we moved the next year my parents agreed to let me go to the -- just the public high school for the semester and I did. So this was, you know, my fourth high school. And so there was a priest who was 11:00a dean of men, a Carmelite priest and a -- he also taught religion. And when the announcement was made about who was elected, he said, “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.” And it was just that being seen, even idealized in a way, but at least someone recognizing me. While prior to that, all my teachers were females and until he died last year, we remained friends.


LOPEZ: Yeah, yeah. He became a psychologist. I think he became a psychologist after I had first gone to graduate school, but before I had actually gotten my degree. And ended up becoming the Director General of the Carmelite Orders Priests and Nuns internationally and he’s just an incredible human being that I was blessed to have cross my path.


ABBOTT: So you went to Catholic schools and Catholicism was a big part of your life. Can you talk about that?

LOPEZ: Sure.

ABBOTT: Or the religious development at all?

LOPEZ: Because it certainly is connected to my sitting here today. I did go to Catholic schools and my mother - well, when we first moved, you know, downtown, I went to Catholic school and my mother, I was first grade, my mother enrolled me in, so. But as a second grader, and preparing for Holy Communion and just learning about the Commandments and the laws of the church and that kind of thing, as a young child, I was taught that divorce was not allowed and it was a mortal sin and you couldn’t receive the Sacraments if you were divorced. Of course, you couldn’t go to Heaven if you hadn’t received the Sacraments 13:00[laughter] you know it was that kind of sentence and so I would be going to Catholic schools, very much spiritually-oriented and yet my mother wasn’t allowed to receive the Sacraments and I was being told that my parents would then go to Hell. So at a very early age I knew that there was something very good about religion and teachings and values and there was something twisted, because in my own thinking, it couldn’t be Heaven if my parents weren’t going to be there. So I had done this separating out from just being a believer, a complete believer. And then when we moved, I went to public school, but went to religious education afterwards. I look back with amusement now at myself 14:00because after one of the religious educations classes at the public school, I walked into the principal’s office and said, “And why can’t I come to school here?” And I guess because it’s a paraschool they had limits. But anyway, she made a place for me in the school, so I finished my elementary school in Catholic school.

ABBOTT: Wow. That was kind of a lot of spunk for a --

LOPEZ: I know, I mean I look back at --

ABBOTT: -- a kid.

LOPEZ: -- you know, at someone in, as I say, I think I would have been maybe sixth grade and I knew what I wanted and that has been pretty true for me much of my life, fortunately. [laughter]

ABBOTT: So, you’ve finished high school. Where did you go to college?


LOPEZ: So in high school, in Arizona, there were some -- you know, college day and that kind of thing, and also vocation days. So there was the element of, was I going to enter the convent, because I was spiritually inclined or was I going to go to college? And I was the first generation of my immediate siblings and my step sisters. My step father had two step sisters. They had gone to some -- they had taken some college courses [inaudible] graduated. And I was also interested in travel, because I’ve been traveling since I was three, getting on planes and... and so one of the colleges that came on campus was Marymount College, which then was in Palos Verdes Estates, and I was drawn to it because it was one of the first colleges in the U.S. to have junior year abroad program, because the nuns had convents in Spain and in France and in London, and so they could 16:00send their colleagues, students over to study in those countries and have them be safe. So that appealed to me and then it was on a hill overlooking the ocean and that appealed to me. And -- but I was really torn, I’d been accepted to enter the convent and I’ve been accept-- well I hadn’t been yet, I had applied to Marymount, but the only way I could go would be with full scholarship and you know, the whole financial package. And at one time the religious director said to me, “Well, you know it’s, it could be God’s will if you get availability from Marymount or if that’s the right choice or if not, you could with us.” And when I got the scholarship, she said, “Well it could be the act of the Devil.” [laughter] And again, that was another like, one of those “Ah ha” moments, like what’s wrong with this picture? And so I 17:00decided to go to college.

ABBOTT: And what was that like? What was your college experience like?

LOPEZ: Umm -- it -- I mean, it was again, you know, being, now having children and grandchildren, I’ve recognized that it wasn’t necessarily the norm having visited campuses the year before with my son and taking them to school, etc., but I took a greyhound bus [laughter] from Tucson to LA and got picked up by a big sister. And I’m pretty adaptable, you know, there were I remember particularly one young woman whose parents came and helped -- we had beautiful 18:00rooms because Marymount was started as colleges for diplomats’ daughters and that kind of thing, so it was a very nice place to go. And it was only 300 students, so it’s not like now you have to find your own [inaudible], you know. But these parents came and they were really helping their daughter. And I thought, ah, wouldn’t that be nice, to have that kind of support. But you know, I fit in pretty well, I was co-president of the freshman class. I remember we had like screening tests and eight of us got pulled out. I thought, oh my God, I failed it because, again, I felt like I was entering a new level of competition and I had been selected for the Honors Program, which was a blessing and a curse. [laughter] It was the first year they were having this honors 19:00program and it was really intense and I did work study and you know, so I was working ten hours a week. But it was also great. I met some wonderful teachers. And I think there too, there was a little bit of the -- it seemed like a side, but again, I think in terms of where we end up and it’s relevant, the president of the college was a woman and you know, I had a male philosophy professor, but most of the faculty administrators, they were all women. So on one level she was a wonderful role model. But the Arch Bishop in Los Angeles with Cardinal McIntire, who was one of the most conservative, restrictive cardinals in the church, so you know again there was that contrast of being glad I had to take religion and philosophy every semester. It was required. Glad I 20:00did. But there was also that contrast between the good and the gifts and the dangers and limitations and restrictions.

ABBOTT: So what did you major in, how did you move from college into the world?

LOPEZ: OK, I was going to -- because I was still interested in drama, I was going to be English/drama, but there was no drama department. There were plays and stuff that I participated in, but not an actual department. And then I took philosophy and I really loved it and tutored philosophy, so I was going to be a philosophy major and then I took my first psychology course and knew that was it and never, never questioned it. And in fact, I just given an honor to my mentor 21:00who taught that course and we’re still friends to the university. And so my -- so I always wanted to do my junior year abroad and as people who know me they’re not surprised, but it -- I was co-chair freshman year because it was such a small school, I was Student Body Social Chairperson my second year. So I organized the mixers and all that kind of stuff. And Loyola University was a brother school and so we would have meetings with women’s colleges and the men at Loyola University to plan mixers and stuff. And it was there that I learned about Loyola Chicago just having started a junior year abroad program in Rome. So Marymount I could have gone to London, France or Spain, but because I was so 22:00interested in religion and that the Vatican Council was going on, I decided to go to Rome. But I couldn’t afford to go to Rome because of my scholarship and work study and all of that wouldn’t transfer, so my parents wanted to go to Europe and my step father was on a pension and had social security so they rented their house in Tucson and I went to live with them in Rome that year. When we moved to Tucson, my parents had never driven because of spending their adult lives in New York City, so at 15, I became the family chauffer. And when we moved to Rome, we bought a VW Bug and then I drove us around Europe. But part of my motivation or a strong part of my motivation to choose Italy was spirituality. And I remember 23:00going one time to the Vatican to see the Pope, to Saint Peter’s, and I was shocked that there was like all this, everybody pushing and elbowing each other to get closer. I was like, “man this isn’t what I came for.” And I stopped at this little gift shop outside of Saint Peter’s Square and there was this Catholic-American nun there, and, “Oh, what are you doing here, etc.?” So I said, you know, I came to study, but I haven’t really gotten what I came for. Even though it was a [inaudible] university and I was still having religion classes and philosophy and she said, “Well you should try a retreat at, there’s a place outside of Rome, near the Pope’s summer home, called Casa [?] and they offer international retreats, and they have them in English. And it’s called the “Center For A Better World.” So I looked into it and now I look back and, I mean, I don’t know how I looked into it, because there 24:00wasn’t Internet, there wasn’t [laughter; inaudible] somehow I found out about when the English retreat was going to be and I asked the director of the program if I could take a week off of school to go to this retreat, and he said, “No.” So I went anyways and that’s where I met my husband. So again, you know it’s just, I have been reinfor-- I was gifted and reinforced and listening to my inner voice and was a life altering experience. And I decided that it was such a powerful experience and it wouldn’t be available to the other students, so I wanted to give them a sampler or a taste of it, so on campus, I created what I called A Day of Recollection and had the nun who lead the re-- there was a priest and a nun who lead the retreat, the priest was not 25:00wanting to have more contact, but the nun was incredible. So I had her and some of the priests. It was all -- it was about 30 or 40 people and I -- except for a woman who was in her fifties and considered herself religious, I was the only lay person there. They were all priests, brothers, nuns, seminarians and it was pretty shocking, like, “What have I get myself into at 20, you know, to be the only lay person there?” It was really -- it was like an encounter group experience where we sat around in a circle and we shared and very, very powerful. So in planning The Day of Recollection for the students that was part of getting to know, because you know, my husband Frank, [inaudible] Frank a 26:00little bit better and I had fallen in love with him at first sight, but knew that that was, you know, in ’66, priests did not leave the church and I wasn’t interested in him leaving the church. So when we had a little bit of contact, not a lot and then I came back from my senior year in college and it was in my senior year in college that the same nun who was my mentor got me a work study position working with autistic children. And among the interesting circles of life, it was, I had to drive about 40 minutes each way, but it was at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica and that’s where my 8-and-a-half-month granddaughter was just born [laughter] so...


ABBOTT: Wow, wow. A very interesting circle.

LOPEZ: Yeah. So I went from Marymount, you know, coming back graduating, and that was a hard year for me and I guess it’s probably as close as I get to the, being closeted experience. Because I came back to a small college, all women and nuns, etc., and my secret was that I was in love with a Catholic priest. So I was like, “Holiness, forbidden secret.” And also I knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere, so you know, it wasn’t like there were correspondence or -- but it was this, I’m hurting, I’m stirred and I can’t talk to anybody about it. And I also got depressed out here. And the same mentor one day saw me and she said, “Hmm, looks like you have smiling depression.” 28:00And I had never heard that expression before, but I was certainly raised and taught to have a smile on my face. So she was pretty perceptive that way, as well. And she had gotten her doctorate from Catholic University. I had -- the woman who hired me, the nun who hired me at Saint John’s, she knew when they’d been at graduate school together at Catholic University. So after college, I ended up serving a doctorate program at Catholic U.

ABBOTT: But you didn’t finish your doctorate there?

LOPEZ: No, no, I was there for a semester and prior, I think the summer before graduate school I had gotten a letter from Frank that he was leaving the 29:00priesthood and he had fallen in love with a young German woman. So I thought -- I was moving forward, starting my doctoral program, etc., and then friends of mine who knew him, said, “You might want to get in touch with him again,” because he was down at the University at Florida at the doctoral program there after he left. Looks like the engagement fell off -- fell through. So I got back in touch with him and we corresponded just a little bit and then he said that he was -- that I was too young and his former fiancé was early, was around 21, as well, and he was 37, and that he was going to pursue a relationship with a nun he had met in England at a retreat that he had offered of the same kind of retreat. So really, it was like, “Enough already, goodbye.” [laughter] So 30:00that Christmas I was going to go back to Tucson to be with my family and I was going to afford to go there by working on an Indian campus with a faculty member who was doing research and that fell through, in terms of timing, so I ended up driving down to my aunt’s house in New York instead from Washington. This was one quick story that is significant, just because of the woman’s movement and that is that I went out on a blind date, a friend of someone who I was in graduate school with and so we’re having dinner at Tavern On the Green and he says to me, “Ah, so you’re in graduate school? Aren’t you afraid that, you know, you’re really not going to find a husband if you get your doctorate?” And I said, you know, “It never occurred to me.” [laughter] It wasn’t in 31:00my considerations as I was, you know, considering my career. And the next day, I get a call from Frank and he wanted to come up and see me. And I wasn’t very encouraging of that at all because I had to go back and do my exams and I had already, it’s like, enough already. And he persisted, so I said, “OK. You can come up and...” So he came up to see me and I came back to my aunt’s house at night, and she said, “Well how was it?” And I said, “It was wonderful. I think he’s going to ask me to marry him tomorrow.” And she said, “Really?” And I had asked what she thought of him, because she had met him briefly, and she said, “Well he’s very nice, but he’s too old.” You know, not now later because there’s a 15-and-a half-year age difference. So the next night he asked me to marry him and I said yes and drove down to D.C. where his family was celebrating the holidays, met them and he came up to see me 32:00I think on the 27th of December and we were married January 6th in Florida. And had to have all the blood work, and had to -- it was New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, you know, so it might have happened even faster. [laughter] So the funny part is that I heard from my graduate student friend that when he heard that I had gotten married a few days after he made that comment, he thought that maybe I had gotten scared. [laughter] And at that point, because I mean, because Frank was so much older than I was and he was in Florida and I was in D.C., it didn’t make sense for me to finish graduate school there. And this was pre-women’s movement, this was 1968, and it was like well, one PhD in the 33:00family’s enough. So I was pregnant the next month and had two children. And he got his doctorate and it was really after our children were a little bit older that I had the sense that they really didn’t need the amount of energy that I had to give to life that I decided to go to school. And Frank had done his internship from the University of Florida at the Georgia Mental Health Institute. So that’s where we met various faculty members at Georgia State, like [?] Sheppard and Jim Feagin and Ron Kempler and [?] Brown. Catholic U wasn’t a Catholic psychology, but it was very much mind, body, spirit. The University of Florida program that Frank was in was very much behaviorist and 34:00rat studies and -- when I first applied to graduate school, I thought, grea-- you know, a PhD is a PhD. When I got the contrast and I couldn’t stay in Florida I mean, I couldn’t say we were because it wasn’t a doctorate program so we were going to have to move somewhere. So I knew I needed to find a program that was humanistic or integrative and that’s why we moved to Atlanta.

ABBOTT: Alright. So one of the things you told me before that was a motivator for you to come to Atlanta was to study with [?] Sheppard?

LOPEZ: Yeah and that was another -- I have been -- my relationship with life and the circles of it have been stunning. And I say that because I didn’t want to leave Atlanta and I remember being at being at Phidippides and talking to this 35:00wo-- this stranger, and she said, “Well, wherever your husband goes that’s, you know, that’s where you want to go.” And I went [makes pouting sound]. [laughter] I love my husband but I still don’t want to move. I still don’t want to leave Atlanta. And during that year of 1970, [Evie and AnnMarie?] offered a class on the women’s movement. And that was my first exposure to the women’s movement. And while growing up I had wanted to shed

LOPEZ: because I didn’t want to be Puerto Rican, didn’t want to be Latina. Having a last name of Ostrowski wasn’t much better. “Oh, you’re Polish?” [laughter] “No, no, I’m not Polish, I’m Puerto Rican.” [laughter] So in 1970, when we moved to Florida, I went back and took my maiden name. And pretty controversial. 36:00And I remember my kids were under three at the time and the women’s political cau-- national women’s political caucus was meeting in Florida four days away and again I felt like, I got to go there. And that conflicted, because I thought, what if I have an accident, you know, on the road and I’ve just abandoned my children? Because something is telling me that I need to go there. So I did and, you know, it was a marvelous and glorious time and it was all the big names were there and the early beginning of women’s movement. And so when I came back to the Cape Kennedy area in [inaudible], I became Founding President 37:00of the Brevard women’s political caucus. And we boycotted the Florida women’s club at the beach with picket signs and everything, because it-- they had a white-only policy and I cut ribbons McGovern [laughter] carrying my baby in the center. And I was on the board of ACLU, it turned out that legally I couldn’t get my driver’s license in my maiden name. So ACLU is going to fight that and they researched it and Texas had ruled that a state could require a woman to use her husband’s name on her driver’s license. And I was written up in the paper and, you know, [laughter] this -- in very -- by a very wonderful woman reporter who took, you know, who published a very becoming picture of myself and my children and Frank and the story of my caring about people and 38:00getting involved. But I saw the whole array of pictures that were taken and I thought, “Oh, just one picture.” Slightly different energy in the conversation and the whole story could have taken such a different slant. So it really gave me an appreciation of the power and it also gave me appreciation of vulnerability. I gave a talk one time to the Kiwanis club, it was an all-men’s group and I remember showing up with this other woman. And I’ve never been a strident feminist, I’ve always believed that it’s equal rights, not you know, women having power over men or any of that. So whatever I said was not particularly radical or extreme at all. And there was one man who was there who 39:00was with his daughter and they came up to talk to me at the end of, and I was like, “Isn’t this wonderful? That he’s bringing his daughter?” And then he laid into me. And I was another Betty Freedan, one of those, you know, “duh” women and then his daughter says, “Yes and I like having the doors open for me.” And I just started crying. [laughter] I was so taken aback, so blindsided and again, I think in terms of, in part you know, I’m here because of my work with gays and HIV/AIDS and sexual orientation; that was another time where you think you were just speaking your truth and for a good purpose, and someone’s fear or belief system gets thrown at you in a hostile way.


ABBOTT: So you came to Atlanta to do your doctorate. What were some of the highlights of that process?

LOPEZ: I chose Georgia State and for people who didn’t know about the psychotherapy program at Georgia State, it was considered to be one of the best in the country. And so, you know, the faculty in terms of Erman, Joan and Earl [Brown] and Pauline [Rose-Clance] and I mean, the faculty were just so wonderful, dedicated to psychotherapy. And my first ethics paper, which was when I first met Earl Brown, who’s a mutual mentor of ours, he said, “The way to pick the topic is to figure out what gets your juices going.” And again, that has been my advice for anything [laughter] in life. And so I actually did my 41:00ethics paper on social activism in psychother-- the importance of social activism for psychologists, that we shouldn’t be just picking up the pieces of the harm that’s been done by society, but yes we need to do that work to help heal the harm, but we also need to alter the systems that do the harm. And I was very fortunate that I got to work in a clinic in Georgia State and then after my internship with Grady that I also got to coordinate the clinic for a couple of years. And during that time, get to choose whatever supervisors I wanted that were available for free for two years, and, you know, it was a very enriching 42:00and rewarding experience.

ABBOTT: And from there, you want to describe it [inaudible]?

LOPEZ: And there -- from there, I went straight into private practice. You know, now --

ABBOTT: [opens his mouth to speak] -- go ahead.

LOPEZ: No, I was going to say, because of my values, my ideal self would have gone into public service in some ways. But my year at Emory, I mean, well, it was at Emory, but my year at Grady was like, the getting that gets my juices flowing in terms of the kind of therapy that evokes [inaudible] and I think that’s what I’m really good at. It would be hard to do it in most systems and so by going to private practice, I could have some say of how I worked and it was made easier, I mean, Frank had already been in private practice.

ABBOTT: What year was that?


LOPEZ: Nineteen eighty-one.

ABBOTT: Nineteen eighty-one. So it was probably right around that time that you and I met that maybe through AAP or some other kind of, something professional, that there was a lot of overlap. And it was right in that period of time that the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic was -- it just was, we were just getting some information on it.

LOPEZ: And I was just going to say, in terms of Georgia State there was, the you know, the incredible emphasis on quality therapy, but an important mentor of mine and you know, a friend of [inaudible] [well we’d call him Clarence?] who was the one who represented the social justice, empowering women and speaking 44:00out and those kinds of things, and she was definitely affirmative in that regard, and you know, still a dear friend and ...

ABBOTT: Still a standard bear?

LOPEZ: Absolutely, absolutely.

ABBOTT: So you took all of that into your private practice and then one of the areas that you begin working in very early was HIV/AIDS.

LOPEZ: Yeah, the -- before doing that, and I am bilingual, so not well, I never really saw -- anyone speaking Spanish I saw some, a Latino client, but not anyone in Spanish while at Georgia State, but at Grady through Emory we had that was the first time that I was actually pulled in because I was Spanish speaking, and of course then the population here, the proportions were smaller. But I was 45:00involved before HIV work, I was involved with the Division for Women Psychologists. And chaired that division. And then also Frank and I co-chaired the Psychologists for Social Responsibility, which was an anti-nuclear war group. So, you know again, there were elements of [inaudible] but my first experience of anyone with AIDS, I mean, I did have gay/lesbian friends, but more, probably lesbian friends, then I went on a wilderness workshop, called “Heart, Wisdom, Courage” and I talk about all of this in the article I wrote 46:00for The American Academy, but at that workshop, a two week wilderness workshop with high ropes and vis-- you know, vision quest of being alone and just water -- there was a man from Atlanta who had full-blown AIDS. And so I met him there, but he was still -- he had AIDS -- not, I guess, not full-blown because it was AIDS but he was still healthy enough [inaudible], and he was just so full of life and then when he came back to Atlanta, he started getting sicker. And then Frank and I would cook for him, and Frank and my son would sometimes I would deliver meals to him. And Jeff was the first person, first contact that I had with somebody with AIDS. And then also he chose a final exit in the end and I 47:00worked on his quilt for the AIDS quilt, the AIDS project with two gay friends of his. So that was my first step into having a personal impact and [pause] I think I had one but I’ve always wrote around sexual orientation issues and spirituality and that kind of thing, I had one young widower who, you know, who had just lost his partner. That was like, not just like reading it in the papers, [laughter] but having this like, having it be more personal. And then in 1990 is really when I got involved and that’s where David Woodspallow, my 48:00colleague, had, on his internship, he had done hospice work in California and he had worked with folks who were HIV-positive and I had supervised him before and then we were becoming colleagues and had never actually worked together and wanted to do something together. And that’s where we thought about doing a group for folks who are HIV-positive.

ABBOTT: And that was a long-running group.

LOPEZ: We stopped it, yeah, last year. It was 22 years. We started it at Grady Hospital. There was no infectious disease program. [laughter] He and I went down to Grady and just said, you know, would you like us to provide a free group. And they had one social worker there at the time, and it was like, “Sure.” 49:00[laughter] So we started -- we would go down to Grady once a week and do the group there. But they just could not give us the facilities that were appropriate for group therapy. Kept on having people come in, being bumped, you know. Finally, we just said, “No, we’re going to take this to our practice, although it would have been nice for people to have that one stop.”

ABBOTT: Yeah. Yeah. And all during that time, you were raising your sons?

LOPEZ: In -- when -- when I started in private practice, my kids were teenagers. [laughter] And so both, graduate school is actually a very good things in terms of parenting, because when they were little I could study after they went to bed, [laughter], when they were older, they would be studying, too, so it really 50:00-- and I could be home for dinner every night, except for one coarse that started at 7 in the morning, I would, you know, be here before, until they left for school, so it was actually a --

ABBOTT: A fairly normal experience.

LOPEZ: Yeah, yeah. Although, while I was in graduate school, there was initially, straight out of college, there was a woman who was pregnant and I was like, “How can you do that?” I mean, I just consumed by this task of just being a graduate student, how could anybody be married, how can anybody, you know, but, we all learn how to adapt when it’s needed. And to me, I found it to be actually really enriching, because one of the things I’ve realized was that, you know, whether an exam went well, whether whatever hurdle I was working on that was frustrating or dissertation or whatever, I came home to kids who loved me and hugged me, so there was a very nice balance, you know, my husband. And I did -- the other thing that I was involved pre-HIV work was I did my 51:00dissertation -- I did my, yeah I did my dissertation on battered women. And during my internship, a ca-- a friend, Karen Johnson -- um, Karen Schwartz and I did a group for battered women. And then Frank started with another man the first non-profit for abusive males. And then eventually those incorporation papers got turned over to men’s stopping violence.

ABBOTT: Oh wow, wow. So that’s interesting how that --

LOPEZ: Yeah.

ABBOTT: -- it kind of seeded that.

LOPEZ: Right, right.

ABBOTT: So you’re, you know, through your practice you were involved in many different things. And, you know, the forms of social activism varied but there 52:00was always that element of social activism, you know that was part of what you were [inaudible; coughing]. And something you shared with Frank, as well.

LOPEZ: Right, right. And the other part of social activism, I was just thinking of a little bit, was with Latinos and during the Cuban boat lift. There was no Latin-American association. There was no Hispanic Health Coalition at the time. There was a Catholic nun, Sister Barbara and a few other people, who were looking at some of the social issues, [Saint Joseph Morsee. So I was doing a little bit of social activism around then.


ABBOTT: So to go back to the, to your Catholicism, obviously you know, one way that you broke from the formal Catholic Church was to marry a former Catholic priest. And that puts you on a different path. And I know that one of the things that has been also, you know, of huge importance to you and to your work has been a spiritual practice that has integrated belief systems and practices from many different traditions. Can you talk about how you -- how that sort of came into being and how that has flown?

LOPEZ: Yeah, well, first of all, you know, I think Jiminy Cricket’s “let your conscious be your guide,” for me, it’s like, “let your heart be your guide.” And so for me, even though Frank and I would be ex-communicated by 54:00getting married, I knew what he would talk about -- there’s a spirit of the law and a letter of the law. And that, for me, spirituality has always been about love, not about judgment. So there was never a question of would I marry him, because I knew you know, I just knew that for someone who wants to be married and, I’m thinking, you know, a priest who were leaving -- people who are leaving, to say, “No, you made a commitment.” So, you just, you know, live this way for the rest of your life when your heart’s no longer there or something. It was just wrong to me. So I didn’t -- personally didn’t have 55:00any qualms about breaking the law of the church and Frank had been in the process of going for -- not an annulment -- it’s called laicization. Being in the church, there was that piece of, [inaudible] a priest in the order of [inaudible], you know, you threw it, you’re it, you can’t undo it. But there also was a process in the church called laicization where people could apply to be released from their orders. But in the past, it was like it hardly ever happened. And then in ’67, ’68, ’69, I mean, we got married January ’68, so very early on, suddenly more and more people were making that choice. And I think, in part, as an understandable delay tactic and also it was new to the Vatican, so it’s like, what do you do, etc.? There was -- it’s like you put 56:00your request in but it’s, you know kind of into the void and you never know, is it going to be granted, when is it going to be granted, etc.? So even though Frank had started that process of laicization, we had made a decision to not delay getting married waiting for that to come in. Which would have allowed us to remain good Catholics, etc. So we were married twice in [inaudible], civil ceremony, Justice and Peace, and then a former priest who married us in more of a religious, spiritual setting in his home. There were people who did not accept it. My family fortunately did not, you know, make a big deal about it. Two of Frank’s aunts were saying, “OK, how do we respond to this invitation.” And we went to a priest and the priest said, “Well, you ignore it. You know, he 57:00knows what he’s doing and he shouldn’t have done it and we’re certainly not going to acknowledge it.” And I lived with that for a while, didn’t feel OK with it and then went to another one and that priest said, “Well of course you should acknowledge it.” [laughter] So I think people were struggling just again, like with gay marriages or -- it’s, there’s change happening and when you believed one thing all your life and right and wrong, what do you do with that? And I had one -- none of my two mentors, even though they were in the religious life never had any, you know questioning about it and Frank’s mentor, but a college classmate said, “I’m sorry, I can’t have contact with you.” And later on, years later, and came around and said, “Sorry, didn’t know better.” And so what -- we were, we had been about six months 58:00pregnant with our first born, Jim, who was named after a Catholic bishop, who at the time, this Catholic bishop became the first bishop to leave years later, but we didn’t know that. When I was six months pregnant with Jim, we got a phone call being told that we could get married in the church. But there were certain stipulations and stipulations were not acceptable to us. And so we said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” But we would still go to church, we’d still be nominally Catholic, the -- there was the underground movement in churches and homes and that kind of thing and then when our son was born there was the whole question of, well do we baptize him? What Frank and I decided to do was to write 59:00our own baptism ceremony because neither of us believed in, you know, the state of sin that a child is born with and needing to remove that and it was more of a blessing [inaudible] wrote the [inaudible] ceremony. So our children would go to church with us some, never went to religious education of any kind and at one point, when they were teenagers weren’t particularly wanting to go, Frank wasn’t wanting to go, I was the only one, because I love ritual and so finally I said, “I do not want anyone going with me that doesn’t want to go. I’ll go, you know, [laughter] I’ll go by myself.” I sure don’t want to feel 60:00anyone being dragged to going. But I certainly wouldn’t go, you know, every Sunday or that kind of thing. And then neither of our children are religious. Michael, who just has a little [inaudible], I sent him the baptism address my mother made to him and his wife, and I said, “This is just to give it to you as a legacy, this is not any [laughter] pressure in any way of my knowing, you know, what you should be doing.” And then Frank went through a period of being anti-religious, which I could never get with personally, because some of my dearest friends were still, you know the religious right. And to me it wasn’t is somebody celibate or not or some self identif-- it’s where where’s their 61:00heart, where’s their soul? And so I really -- there’s a [Holly Meer?] song that I [inaudible] terribly, that it’s something like, “I’m not afraid if you’re God or you’re Jesus or you’re Allah, I’m afraid of what you do in the name of your god.” And that has been my ambivalent relationship around religion. And at times my family has been very involved in speaking in tongues, which were not part of the old Catholic church, they’re part of the -- a later wave, but that never seemed to get in the way of my personal connection.

ABBOTT: So how did you begin to incorporate other kinds of spiritual paths? What lead --

LOPEZ: Sure.

ABBOTT: -- what lead you there?


LOPEZ: Well I have loved yoga since my children were little. And during one of the visits to Arizona and I’ve never been disciplined, so it’s not like I’m a real practitioner, but whenever I do it I love it. And my step-sister, who is very religious, had said, “Oh that’s the work of the devil.” Like, OK, thank you very much, I know it’s good. [laughter] I know it helps my spirit, you know and so I think first it was yoga and I think then for 17 years, Frank and I had a study group at our home for the Christian articles. And Dave McDonald was a part of that for those 17 years. And so we had a weekly group, so that was only one alternate Christian tradition with very, 63:00certainly very, very different. And we had a Jewish friend who was -- whose parents were Holocaust survivors be a part of it as well, even though it’s the voice of Jesus, but as people who have studied it and respond to it can sense that there’s a wisdom there and it’s more profound. I studied with Hillary Ellers, a local psychic. And Frank and I had actually gone to her in Florida before she moved to Atlanta. A therapist in Atlanta, he kind of recruited her to come here, but I heard about her and we went to her before she moved here, before I applied to Georgia State and she was telling me I was going to be moving to a place that was very, very green, [laughter] so when I came to Georgia State for my interview, it’s like, “You may not know that I’m coming here, but chances are good that I am.” I’ve never been -- it’s not 64:00like, you know, some people have left the Catholic church and become Episcopalian, because a priest can marry, or -- I really just don’t have the need, I don’t have the need for a spiritual community because I have that and in Buddhism they talk about the Sun God. I’ve done dance meditation or ecstatic dancing. That was a group that would meet once or twice a week. I have a different group now that does improve that also feels very spirit-creative and I helped a friend of mine start [inaudible] refuge, which is an open center for stillness or swami lotus. So I meditate there twice a week and then, right now, 65:00I have a meditation group that meets at my house, it’s mostly Emory people. So I have meeting places, but for me, almost every human encounter is sacred, so it’s not like, I have this need of, “OK, now send me more [inaudible.]” You know, it just isn’t there for me. And I’m not opposed to it, it just isn’t there for me. And --

ABBOTT: Go ahead.

LOPEZ: And also, I was going to a -- the [inaudible] institute, because of a friend of mine, Robert Gass and he and his wife created Heart, Wisdom and Courage -- well, Opening the Heart workshops, just a very, very spirit-filled man and his music and, so I started going to Omega every summer, initially to take a workshop with him and then to help Robert and his wife, Judith, on 66:00[inaudible] do week-long summer retreats. And its couples retreats as a spiritual path, but in one of those meetings, I met a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka, whom you’ve met, Banté Valima and that was, I think, perhaps my first introduction to Buddhism. I mean, I would think that it probably started with Banté. And he was writing a book and he asked Frank and I to edit it, because his English wasn’t too great. So, for me what I really believe in, are the wisdom teachings That -- not to simplify, you know, here’s universal everything, but it -- does truth resonate or not?

ABBOTT: Yeah. Yeah. How has that impacted your work? Can you talk about a little 67:00bit about how your spiritual awareness informs that of your psychotherapy practice?

LOPEZ: The -- I don’t know that I have ever, like I’ve never gone through pastoral counseling or did the spiritual director or anything like that, it’s always just been a part of who I am. And Ray Cratic at Georgia State with union work certainly [inaudible] I’m not a union, although I practice with two union therapists, but I do go to lectures of the [inaudible] society and that whole, again, that broad cross-cultural honoring of different traditions and teachings 68:00and the same thing Joseph Campbell. So, the way that I work is really to share whatever comes through me to be shared with the sensor of this -- just because I really want to say something or is it really going to be appropriate for therapeutic abstinence. You know, is it going to be helpful and meaningful? And so -- and whenever I do as I say something, I always say, you know, “It may be from this tradition or that tradition, but I’m not advocating that tradition.” Like here, it’s this possibility or facet to consider. I certainly have worked with people around this Twelve Step Program and see that is an incredible, spiritual tradition. I wasn’t at all surprised when that identified as like -- someone identified it as the most significant spiritual 69:00movement of their -- of the 20th century. You know, and I believe that, because I’ve just seen lives transformed profoundly. So it was really with the HIV group where for round the first 10 years, it was more of a therapy support group and then it shifted and David Neigh referred to it as psychotherapy spirituality group. And that’s where -- from the get-go people would, “What does this mean?” And what I would say, you know, once I got clear about what does it mean for me, is, “It’s a Christian code but, the glory of God is a human being fully alive.” And I would say that that informs my life and my work. 70:00Where is their deadness? You know, where’s their constriction? Where’s their fear? And one of the things I loved about yoga is they talked about flexibility and strength and you know, it’s like when I say words that are constrictions, I find that [inaudible] sometimes people need to harness in [laughter] and the thoughts of like, “Oh, let’s let go of limits,” you know? And -- but, where is spirit? Absent of life force, absent...

ABBOTT: You know, your orientation of being -- paying attention that kind of 71:00energy, you know, whether it is in, you know a teaching setting or a therapy setting or just in living your life, how did that affect you as a parent?

LOPEZ: Hopefully my kids are [laughter] living proof. I think that they are both so very different and so going for their aliveness. And each of them --

ABBOTT: So you [overlapping dialogue; inaudible] --

LOPEZ: -- Yeah. Each of them, I mean my one son, who was the engineer and had a doctorate in engineering and taught at Penn and got tenure and said, “It’s not where I want.” And he quit. And my other son who is a TV writer now, he had a -- working for a documentary company and was in a meeting and said, you 72:00know, “I wish I’d left this job 10 years ago,” and he calls us up and says, you know, “I don’t want to be that person.”

ABBOTT: Very interesting.

LOPEZ: So I think that they -- they bring in -- I think Frank you know, he died at 79 and had five -- last five years with cancer and was still representing the Fellowship of the UN, I mean the Fellowship of the Reconciliation of the UN, going to Paris to give a talk on truth and reconciliation. Going to meetings in Japan and Israel and so I think that we could -- you know, it’s not an accident that we met at a retreat at a Center for A Better World.

ABBOTT: So that’s been the theme?

LOPEZ: That’s been the theme and I want it to continue to be the theme.


ABBOTT: Well talk a little bit about Frank. Your, you know, how your -- how spirit and social activism, you know informs your relationship. What the journey was like together and what it was like to live with him while he was going through cancer, you’re a cancer survivor yourself. And you know, losing him.

LOPEZ: Well I don’t know if we would’ve stay together if it not -- if it had not been for my sense of trusting my knowing. And I think he’d probably say the same thing. So I mean, I don’t think it’s being [inaudible] on my part. 74:00I think, understandably, Frank ne-- he never dated, he had wanted to be a priest, you know, I think he want to -- I think there is a picture of the other dates he went to, but that was, you know, that was it. I mean he wanted to be a priest since a child. And was in Catholic Saint Paul, you know, and that was like that the top of the mountain and that was really what he wanted. And then, when he was giving that up, there certainly was a [inaudible] mourning. So when we first got married, and then I got pregnant a month later, he went through a period of, “Oh my God, what have I done? Now I can’t [laughter], now she’s pregnant, you know?” And so there’s a period of time, I think, when he got depressed and was questioning, what am I getting into, becoming a father? You 75:00know, he never envisioned this for himself, that kind of father. And what’s true is, he was an incredible father. I mean he, from changing diapers and, you know, he really, he was in graduate school, but he was one of these people who was able to say, “OK, work’s done at the end of the day, I’m home.” So I mean, he was really a very good father and his mother was a -- she wouldn’t define herself as a feminist, but she went to college in the ’20s, graduated from college and she and her college classmate started a restaurant in a bank building and it was unheard of and the paper -- an article was written in the paper about these two young college students who were, you know. So he was raised by a business woman, wonderful, nurturing, fabulous woman, but who had 76:00her career, so even though I was at home with the kids and at one level that made his life easier when I wanted to go back to school, he was like, “You need to. You know, you’ve got gifts, you’ve got to get the training, absolutely.” And he left a job he loved, a part of the country he loved and moved for [inaudible] here to take a new job and to support the family while I was in school. I think that they, you know, there were at times, struggles and interims of, I think he fell into the marriage. [laughter] “That didn’t work out, OK, well she’s still over here, so I’ll go, you know, into [inaudible].” So it wasn’t like we really had a long courtship of his deciding, is she is the one that I really want? And doing some of the healing 77:00work of leaving the priesthood and that played itself out later. And so, through some of the work that I did despite our being in practice together when our kids left, I chose to separate and so, and then six months later I was diagnosed with cancer. And he was very willing to come, you know, to come back and I said, “No, I’m not returning because of fear. I, you know, what I need to face is cancer diagnosis is what is really life giving for me?” And I took life on as my lover and had fortunately because both of us are so people-oriented, had an incredible connection, and two [inaudible] years of separation we continued working together, we continued having the course on Miracles Group meet at our 78:00house [laughter]. While he was living elsewhere. But it was a very important time, I think for him to decide what he wanted and I wasn’t even at “what do I want?” I mean it’s like, how do I stay alive? [laughter] Do I want to go date somebody else or do I, you know, want a divorce or whatever? It’s like no, just one a day, again, you know, I went on vision quests and just remember different things. And then at the end of those two years, I think at one point he was wanting to come back, because if anything happened to me, he wanted to take care of me, and I said, “Not good enough. I’m not planning to get sick.” And, you know, and then alter on he really wanted to be married to me 79:00and that’s when we got back together. And, you know, curious because you were asking about the impact on our kids, about this [inaudible], my daughter-in-law has said that our separation was harder on her than it was on either of our sons. And part of it is she came from a very traumatic family background, and so our idealized couple was like, just so, meant so much to her, but I think both our sons were like, “Go for your life. You know, we’d like you to be together.” And again, we weren’t destructive with each other, tearing each other down or anything, so it was like, we’re living our life, you’ve lived yours, and certainly they were very, very glad when we got back together. But 80:00that sense of, just like we trusted them, you know, I don’t know where the term originated, the daemon? D-A-E-M-O-N?

ABBOTT: Right. [overlapping dialogue; inaudible]

LOPEZ: It’s like that inner, being evoked. I think that that’s what he encouraged in them and then they could support that in us.

ABBOTT: How long were you all back together before he had his diagnosis?

LOPEZ: [pauses; thinking.] Eighteen years?

ABBOTT: OK. That’s a long time.

LOPEZ: Yeah, yeah.

ABBOTT: So it was sort of like a second marriage?

LOPEZ: It was like a second marriage, I mean, our first marriage was raising the kids, because, you know, it’s like, our first born before we had our first anniversary, and they went off to college, we separated and then, yeah.

ABBOTT: Came back together.


LOPEZ: Yeah. Yeah, and really, you know, it’s like, but, again, I think it’s in that theme, if you will, that I told Frank, I said, “I don’t” -- because he had considered going into the Peace Corps while we were separated, you know, different things, I said, “I don’t care what you do. You know, it’s like, if you want to go to the Peace Corps for a couple of years, that is fine with me. I would rather know that your heart is with me and you’re halfway around the room than living together and not feeling connected.” So there was a period of time where he was retiring and I had a client’s suicide and I needed time off, and I really didn’t think I’d be going back to practice and we took a month to South Africa, we took a month to New Zealand and Australia and we went to, you know, did lots of traveling and envisioned our 82:00life continuing that way, probably. And then he was invited to represent the Fellowship of Reconciliation at the UN. And all of a sudden every month he’s going to New York, going right on the street past the building where my mo-- the tie factory that my mother [laughter] worked at. And then he’s going to, you know, a meeting in Japan, he’s going to a meeting in India and so, you know, some of the traveling he did on his own. Yeah that was -- and I went to China, I went to help a friend adopt a baby. And we did a lot of traveling together, but it was not a -- it’s never been a, “You need to take care of me, you can’t do what you want to do,” I mean, neither of us are high maintenance that way.


ABBOTT: Right, right, but you were both very independent.

LOPEZ: Yeah. And also enjoy family and being together. So, in terms of, so by the time he was diagnosed it was really, how you say, it was a good prognosis. Find the cancer and we were going to do the surgery and then, you know, it’s the kind of cancer that doesn’t occur, etc., no chemo needed. So we post-- we were going to do a family trip, it was going to be my 60th and his 75th birthday, and so we were going to do a family trip to Greece and then this came up. So we canceled the trip and instead the day we were going to be in Greece, 84:00we went into Athens, Georgia, the day we were going to be in Rome, we went to Rome, Georgia, and the day we were going to be in Belgium, we went to -- we ate Belgium chocolate. So, you know, it’s like, how do you get creative with what life brings to you? But in during the surgery they damaged part of his diaphragm, so he had a little more trouble breathing, but not terribly so. So he stopped playing soccer, we had played soccer together, but he was still traveling the world and certainly going to New York and then it was about two and a half years into that that the radiologist missed the smaller tumor and then three months later, when it was found, he went through chemo, and, but the 85:00disease was [inaudible] was never resolved. But even, you know, during much of that and you know, the chemo was pretty rough, but during much of that time he had lived life fully. And for me, in some ways, his, the thought of losing him was eased by having lived alone for two years. Because otherwise I would have gone straight from college [laughter] a little bit of graduate school, never lived independently to, you know, being alone for the first time in my life. So those two years it’s like, OK, I know that I can have a full life and be happy and not have Frank as my partner. That was one part. He made it so easy by being 86:00so willing to have people come in, you know they, you know to have people come in and sit with him if I needed to go do something. It wasn’t like, “Well no, I want this person, but not that person.” Or, it was just like -- it was really like, people loved him, so people wanted to be there. And living with the uncertainty, I mean, I, when I was diag-- and again, in terms of HIV, this is one of the things that I write about and also that, you know, learn is [inaudible] statement of the spiritual memorial that lives with death on his left shoulder? We’re just in denial about our mortality, so yes, the cancer diagnosis makes it more front and center, but our mortality is still part of the human condition. And what was -- there were two times, one when we were 87:00celebrating our 42nd anniversary, and he said, “I don’t know if there will be a 43rd.” And this was January 6th and he died on the 25th, so I mean, he was really -- even though that day he had given a talk to a book club about his book and had driven back and forth from Rome, Georgia, but it’s like, it’s all just that holding all of it. And I said, “Well, we didn’t know if there would be a 41st or a 40th and so we just keep moving forward.” And but what became the easiest for me was when I realized that it was all about love. So it wasn’t like, if Frank’s going to live, then I’m going to be this way, and if Frank’s going to die, then I’m going to be that way. No, it’s like, how do I love today? What is loving today look like? And I have my cut list. 88:00[laughter] So it didn’t have that whole rollercoaster and then also he read everything on near-death experiences, I mean he’s got, I still have a bookshelf that’s [laughter] they’re all the things that are written about -- life after, all that kind of stuff. And he was really ready. Either way, he was ready to live fully as he could any day and you know, he wasn’t scared of dying. And he also ended up writing a spiritual autobiography and left a folder in which I didn’t know about until later about, you know, how he wanted his service and everything. So there was a sense of completion and there was a sense 89:00of incredible love around us and between us.

ABBOTT: And he’s been gone for how many years?

LOPEZ: Two thousand ten.

ABBOTT: Two thousand ten.

LOPEZ: January 2010 [inaudible] about four and a half.

ABBOTT: How’s it been different for you? I mean I know that you say that, you know, your internal compass of, you know, loving the day, you know, regardless of where you are and with whom you’re with has remained the same, but how has life been different?

LOPEZ: Well he’s definitely still with me. And, but not in any way that feels limiting. You know I mean, I’ve heard people say, “Well you know, I could never get married, because...” No, you know he’s with me in the light, in a light way. I’ve got half the team [laughter] both my kids and because I know and 90:00even though I lived alone for two years you know, I was 20 years younger, so certainly there are times it’s like, “Huh, this is a little harder now.” I think I have done some dating, and dating at this age is really as exciting as it’s ever been and as weird as dating could probably be. [laughter] I celebrate my freedom and I’ve had one housemate that is temporary and getting another housemate that I’m really excited about. And, I’m going to a friend’s funeral this -- or memorial service tomorrow. And [inaudible] as you 91:00know, how many of them have there been lately. So I think it’s Frank’s death, it’s friends’ deaths, peers’, so I think it, I’ll be, I’m 68, I’ll be 69 in a couple of months, so mortality is present and intentionality of going for the most, both in the you know, maximizing health and I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and I’m doing well and you dance the dance. [laughter] Keep finding the music.

ABBOTT: I like that, I like that. Well of all that we’ve talked about lots of different things, are there areas that we haven’t visited that feel important to you?

LOPEZ: Well I had, perhaps falsely, thought this was mostly going to be about my 92:00work around HIV. So, at one level, you know, there is a lot we haven’t visited. I never anticipated it would be as personal, except when I’ve sort of, considered the interview. [laughter]

ABBOTT: Well, certainly, you know, we can go back and do more with the HIV, but I think that, for me at least, that it’s really important to, at least as important if not, more than important, to know who you are. You know. And to have your story, because that’s part of your legacy is your story and you have a fascinating story. You know, I knew pieces of it but not all of it, you know, so that’s quite a movie. So is there anything else you want to say about your HIV work?


LOPEZ: Well it drew me to places I wouldn’t have necessarily have gone. And I don’t mean that just, you know, kind of emotionally or anyone who works with dying, that kind of thing. But because of my work, I was asked to write an article for “Voices.” I don’t consider myself -- well I considered myself a writer before a Master’s and a thesis and after that, it was like, forget it, I’m never [laughter]. But it really, it’s like, “Oh, I can write.” And then, you know, it’s a second time an article has been written about me and the cent-- about me and David. Not because I’m looking for publicity, but just because somebody’s recognizing something that I was doing. The -- I was 94:00drawn, I mean I was invited to join Positive Impact and -- the mental health agency, and I really, I mean, I presumed it was because I’ve been doing this group and somehow they had heard about it, because this was really totally independent, the movie started before PI existed. And I didn’t know if it was because I was Latina and they wanted a Latina board member and such, but part of -- Julia Strong was one of the founding board members part of what she was committed to was it being an agency dedicated to diversity, but not just serving diversity, but living diversity. So it was the first board -- and I’ve been to board meetings before, but I’ve never been to board meetings before where the board is dealing with each other about issues of diversity. And I’m really 95:00doing the work of it. And I had done some, you know, I had done leadership before. But, then I was asked to chair the board, and I had not chaired a non-profit board you know, of that caliber and size. And then during the time that I took off around healing from my client’s suicide, there was the Latino -- I mean, it was the HIV initially white agencies, then African-American, you know, but then Latinos were not being served and were showing up positive. And, what do we do about that? So I agreed to consult, you know, just at a very reasonable fee to Positive Impact, to create the Latino outreach program. And 96:00then I created several, maybe half a dozen trainings, bringing people, like from the New York AIDS Agency coming here and doing AIDS work, AIDS training for Spanish-speaking therapists, doing the trainings in Spanish for therapists and so it was one of the first times I’ve ever had had to -- I can talk with clients in Spanish, but it’s another thing to talk in front of a group in Spanish. And so they were like these, just saying, “Yeah,” you know. The next step, the next right step, was something else, it was new territory. And then hiring, you know, then, now Positive Impact has its own Spanish-speaking, you know, therapists, and such. But being part of that initially and then meeting other, you know, different leaders around the HIV community here and 97:00then being invited to be on the cultural diversity faculty. And again, primarily is doing Latino issues and then eventually where I was learning more and more about oppression and realizing for gays and lesbians and others that religion is a source of oppression. And that’s when I first started doing panels on spirituality and sexual orientation. So, you know, it really -- that work changed the group to realize, you know, Dave and I wanted this to be a spirituality group and then bring spiritual teachers from the community into the group and so there was just a lot of growth that had happened that is why I 98:00initially said yes. And getting you know, being at an AIDS funeral and getting clear that no, I’m not willing to be affiliated with a church whose values I can’t agree with. So it changed me. [laughter] And I think that’s, you know, being a therapist, it’s a reciprocal relationship, but certainly the movement responding to the epidemic was life-altering for me.

ABBOTT: Well certainly, you know part of your legacy here is just what you were talking about, that, you know, not only were you a pioneer in terms of, you know, groups that addressed, you know, the psychological needs of people living with HIV, but also the spiritual needs and then bringing your you know, social 99:00activist self into the mix to advocate for Latino people to get equivalent services and to be taken seriously. All of that is quite a gift.

LOPEZ: Yeah and I really must say that Paul Plate gets the credit. You know what I mean? He’s the one who was seeing the problem, getting the grants and then making it happen. [laughter] You know, tapping me, it was -- I wasn’t the voice saying, “Hey folks, you need to address this.”

ABBOTT: Right, right, but you were there to help.

LOPEZ: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

ABBOTT: And you know, probably as a resource, especially because of your life experience, your professional background and your spiritual orientations from 100:00[inaudible], but just the spirit that you embody that, you know, you were able to, you know, make a positive impact, kind of a, it’s a play on words, you were able to make quite a positive impact there. You know.

LOPEZ: Well and I think -- when David and I started that group we thought maybe a year, because everybody was -- it was a death sentence. A friend of mine who was high up in CDC around HIV, when I was telling him what I was doing, he said, “Five years max for anyone.” And you know, from early on, people were dying, so it’s like, is this group just going to implode, die off and then the rest 101:00of it just implode? And then 22 years later, we reluctantly decided to stop, the group didn’t want us to stop, but again, just the aging, [laughter] you know, the aging process of it, expecting a third grandchild, other things, I knew that it was time, but we kept going on out of discipline, not out of obligation. It just was life-giving and meaning-- it was meaningful to us and rewarding to us. And you know, I’m just so grateful to have supported those who were in the group, to have been with those didn’t make it and to have such wonderful, I mean the allies -- one of the things I did in preparation for this was just and I don’t know if it’s needed or not, just you know, who are all the people 102:00that were, that was part of our team? You know, it’s like, the spirituality piece, there were panels because everyone had such incredible both stories and the learnings.

ABBOTT: One of the things that is sort of missing piece of an archive is to have it identified in their studying collection of information and on HIV/AIDS is the role of the caregivers. You know, from the scientist, you know, who did the work to the people like you and David and Paul who were on the front line you know, providing the services, we have a lot of information about, you know, people who 103:00lived with and died from HIV and we certainly, you know, know a fair amount of -- well the politics is public record, but what hasn’t been you know, studied you know is that network of people who addressed the physical and psychological and spiritual needs. And so your list is very valuable, because --

LOPEZ: Good, good.

ABBOTT: -- more people can come and sit in that chair and talk.

LOPEZ: Absolutely, absolutely.

ABBOTT: And maybe that’s part of what you can trade places with me and talk with some of them, because you know their story better than I do. You know, you were there and you know some of the people who, you know, made an important contribution and you know, I just think that story is extremely important to tell.

LOPEZ: You know and when you asked earlier, for the things I haven’t touched 104:00on one of them is that I did not know this, but in doing the work around HIV then I have two half-brothers who died from HIV. But because of language and separation, you know, it’s like, I really didn’t hardly knew them. But one of them was a scientist in the states, who I tried to connect with, and then there was a mix up and it didn’t happen, I’m not sure, that was about -- he ended up going back to Puerto Rico to die. But he was gay and you know, was very educated and making contribution. The other half-brother was a drug addict and got infected that way and died. So it was -- one of the things I concluded about that is that we’re all impacted, you know [laughter] by AIDS and it’s not like, “Well, because I live in this little area, it doesn’t impact me.” So 105:00it feels right in an additional way, but a very thin line, but you know, I’m glad I can make a difference in people’s lives. And I miss the group. You know? We met every week and I think there was the time between doing the group as a therapy support group and changing it to be a spirituality group, there were a number of months that we took a hiatus and part of it was around people were going back to Lazarus, so people going back to work, the daytime group wasn’t optimal, you know I don’t think David or I, neither of us really wanted to consider changing the time and so when we changed the group to 106:00something that was still lively for us. Some of the group members continued because for the 22 years, we had one group member, you know, one continuous group member, but it was such a touchstone. And you mentioned about the caregivers, one of the things I did also and I can’t remember how I did it exactly maybe, I can’t remember how I sponsored it, but Robert Gass and Judith Ensorrow were doing the opening hard work and doing -- he had worked in a hospice and so they were doing some [inaudible] for caregivers and, I’m just trying to remember this great positive impact or not, but I invited them to come 107:00and do a day-long workshop for caregivers and you know, that is one of the areas that was so neglected. And I think Paul and Lizzie Bogan were probably two of the people locally who really did some of that tending.

ABBOTT: Well, we’ll get them in here. [laughter] Is there anything else you want to say?

LOPEZ: I don’t think so. I think [pause] I think, no, I’m just very grateful. Grateful for this opportunity and it’s just interesting that what I put as the center of my organizational notes was being evoked by suffering and partnership. And it was interesting even though we didn’t cover a lot of the 108:00things I thought we were going to cover, how that theme of being evoked held through.

ABBOTT: Yeah. Well, thanks.

LOPEZ: Yeah.

ABBOTT: We -- I don’t know how to turn anything off.

LOPEZ: OK. We can walk away from it, right?

ABBOTT: We can, we can.

LOPEZ: [laughter]

ABBOTT: I just have to let them know.

LOPEZ: Yeah.

ABBOTT: What will happen is that, you know, the wheels grind slowly here, but at some point a transcript will be available for you to look at. And I will preserve the, both the audio and the video so that will be part of the archive here.

LOPEZ: Cool.


LOPEZ: Cool.


LOPEZ: Yeah.

ABBOTT: I’m glad for that.

LOPEZ: Yeah. So...

ABBOTT: Let me see if I can find Morna She’s going to have a little gift for you to, because you had some things you were going to give her.


LOPEZ: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ahhh [inaudible].


[Long pause]

F1: Did you have a wonderful time?

LOPEZ: Yeah. It was [inaudible] dissipated but it’s fine.

F1: And congratulations, you’re one of our --

LOPEZ: Official.

F1: -- Yeah.

LOPEZ: [inaudible] happy you did it.

F1: Let’s see, I’m going to turn this off. OK and B2 and this one.

[End DVD 1]