OutFront Welcomes Back Co-Founder


Robert Carr ’82

Fiona Cohen, Managing News Editor

On Monday, March 21, OutFront welcomed back Robert Carr ‘82, one of its founding members. At a meeting in the Fireplace Lounge, Carr spoke to over a dozen students about the LGBTQ+ community at Bates in the 1980s, his career in public health and his poetry. He also read aloud from his most recent published work, The Unbuttoned Eye.

Carr spoke of the founding of the club, originally called Gay Straight Alliance: “It was really cloaked in terms of how [the club] came together,” he said. “There was actually one student who did a poster in the dining room line: Gay at Bates.” He went on to describe how the group met off campus to preserve anonymity.

During the first meetings, Carr believes that only six or seven students were in attendance.

“People were very afraid of the potential for violence,” he said, “It was a very different world.” The club’s first on-campus event made the local news, as it was one of the first of its kind in Maine.

Carr went on to speak about his experience in the public health sector in Portland, Maine and in Boston. He graduated at the beginning of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic and planned to begin a career in theater.

“So many people were saying [the AIDS pandemic] is not happening,” he said, “Then there were the first cases in Maine, and a small group of us got together and said, ‘We have to respond somehow.’” Carr cites this moment as the beginning of his career in public health.

He began working with the AIDS Action Committee and ACT UP. This led to a long career with the Department of Public Health in Boston. “I felt like the Public Health Career chose me. I was compelled to do it. I had to do it,” Carr acknowledged.

Almost 30 years after entering the health sector, Carr has returned to one of his true passions: writing. His latest publication, The Unbuttoned Eye, came out four years ago.

“There is a really amazing, extensive community of authors in the central Maine area, and it has been great to connect with them,” Carr said in an exclusive interview with The Bates Student.

Carr is currently working on publishing his next collection of poetry. It is entitled The Heavy of Human Clouds.
“I really zeroed in on observation of the natural world here in central Maine. It also brought me back to my family and thinking about the origins of my folks,” he said. Readers can expect to see this on the shelves by the end of the year.

Clearly, the OutFront founder has been very busy; still, when asked if he’d ever consider coming to Bates as a guest lecturer or speaker, Carr responded: “Anytime you want to call, I’d be happy to come back!”