Feature: Co-founder of the LGBTQ+ Studies department announces retirement


Photo courtesy of Dr. Esther Rothblum

by Alexa Oslowski, Photo Editor

Dr. Esther Rothblum is currently the Professor and Interim Chair of Women’s Studies and LGBTQ+ Studies Director at San Diego State. Her research and writing have focused on women’s mental health and relationships with a specific focus on sexual orientation, the stigma of weight and academic procrastination. She also facilitates and organizes SDSU’s Lavender Graduation, which is put on every year for graduating  LGBTQ+ students and allies. Dr. Rothblum will also be retiring at the end of this academic year.


How did you come into these roles at San Diego State? 


I was hired in 2005 in the Women’s Studies Department for the position in lesbian studies, body image, and psychology of women. I attended a meeting of GLIC (what was then called the Gay and Lesbian Issues Committee) and when I heard faculty wanting to create an LGBT minor two years in a row, I decided to work on that with the help of Associate Vice President Bonnie Zimmerman and Professor Edith Benkov.”


“The minor started in 2009, and then in 2012 I worked on creating the major with Professor Susan Cayleff and Associate Dean Linda Holler. SDSU is the second university in the U.S. and the first in California to offer a major in LGBTQ+ Studies. In 2014 we created a graduate-level certificate. Since then we have changed the name of our program to LGBTQ+ Studies.


Looking back, how do you feel your impact and your work changed the university? How do you feel this work celebrates pride?


“Together with the Pride Center and other student organizations, we have put SDSU on the map as one of the leading LGBTQ affirmative universities according to Campus Pride Index. The program has offered over 50 different courses in the past five years across many departments and several SDSU colleges. We have over 40 affiliated faculty members and offer 18 community internships with an LGBTQ+ focus.”


What does pride mean to you?


“I am aware that Pride celebrates the early LGBTQ activists who fought back against police violence, and we follow in the footsteps of these early activists. The colors of the rainbow pride flag also celebrate our diversity in the LGBTQ+ communities.”