Scroll To Top

Neil Giuliano

Neil Giuliano


As the new president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Neil Giuliano must quickly provide a pro-gay counterbalance to the powerful conservative media. The 48-year-old is well-versed in politics, having served as the mayor of Tempe, Ariz., from 1994 to 2004. He is known as a progressive Republican who also gained vital experience in administrative positions at Arizona State University.

Why are you the best person to lead GLAAD? I have a history of being in leadership roles, working through other people to really find great success, whether that's building a lake in the middle of the desert in Tempe for our downtown redevelopment or convincing a fairly conservative group of council members and a community that we should have domestic-partner benefits for our city employees, that we should protect transgender employees in our workforce with a nondiscrimination policy, and that we should take a stand for full equality when it comes to marriage. The quote that I live by is, "Your challenges will equal the greatness you desire." I think our community has great challenges.

Why did you want this job? I got more interested and excited with the opportunity to play a leadership role like I had when I was an elected official. And these are issues that I have a clear passion about. As a mayor, sometimes you have to pretend that you are excited about the asphalt treatment on your street or the rotation of the recycling pickup--that's your job. [The position at GLAAD] is a role where I have such a passion for us advancing that I don't think it will feel like work. To me, the measure of a great place, professionally, is that it doesn't feel like work.

What is the most pressing job for you to do immediately? Reach out to the GLAAD family as the new leader of the organization and get to know them. That's important. I'm leading a large national organization that has constituents across the country. Any time there's a change in leadership, there are a lot of questions. That's why I'm going on the road. In this first 120 days I'm getting to know the organization on the ground level: how it hums, how it operates.

We are hearing rumblings from some of GLAAD's largest donors who say they do not want a Republican without a national profile to run the group. How do you respond? First of all, GLAAD is not a partisan organization. I was not elected to this job. Quite frankly, I think that folks need to understand that if we're going to be successful, we have to broaden the base of our movement. We have to build coalitions with groups and organizations that are not just like us. That means that we're going to be reaching out. We have to be inclusive and diverse. I understand there are going to be some people who are apprehensive, but I'll tell you this: I was elected mayor of a city of about 170,000 people and did more for LGBT issues and advancement than a whole lot of other mayors who are not in the political party that I was registered in.

I understand what they're saying, but in the broad picture it's irrelevant. I wasn't hired because of my political party affiliation one way or another. My job as a leader is to build coalitions--build bridges and pull people together. I find it disappointing that this vocal minority want to pull up the drawbridge before you even get to it. That, quite frankly, is not the way our movement will be successful.

Talk about your strategy when you have to go up against the far right on some Fox talk show. The strategy is to be honest, and to be honest with the country with regard to the stories of LGBT Americans. When people hear our honest stories, they respond.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories Editors