After a long and storied political career, former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano is leaving the East Valley to become president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a national media activist group.
Giuliano, who is expected to take over the nonprofit organization Sept. 1, served as Tempe’s only openly gay mayor from 1994 until he stepped down last year.
Although he plans to keep his home in central Tempe, Giuliano will relocate to one of the group’s two national offices in New York City or Los Angeles.
"During such a critical time for the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, I am honored and excited to lead one of our movement’s most vital and respected organizations," he said in a prepared statement. "From antidefamation campaigns and media trainings that directly serve our community’s leaders, GLAAD brings our stories to life in the very places that hold the key to winning our quest for equality."
Formed in 1985 in New York City to protest what some believed was unfair and defamatory AIDS coverage by the New York Post, GLAAD has earned considerable media attention through its work with the entertainment industry.
Recently, the organization helped kill a planned Fox reality television show called "Seriously Dude I’m Gay" in which two straight men try to convince their friends and family that they are gay. Additionally the activist group negotiated with NBC’s "Today Show" to include same-sex couples during its annual summer wedding contest.
Chris Bugbee, GLAAD director of marketing and public relations, said Giuliano will oversee the organization’s administrative duties as well as promote the group’s core values.
"We view our job here as working on the frontline of democracy," Bugbee said.
Since leaving office in July 2004, Giuliano has been working as a development consultant in Las Vegas, where community leaders want to create an urban district that resembles downtown Tempe. He also has retired from Arizona State University, where he worked as a community relations director and helped land the 2004 presidential debate at Gammage Auditorium.