Welcome to InsiderNJ’s OUT 100 Power List, a first-of-its kind-tribute to influential LGBTs in New Jersey politics. This list was a reader’s idea. My editor Max Pizarro and my General Manager Pete Oneglia green-lighted the idea so long as I promised to make it amazing. These Power Lists mean a lot to people. Making it amazing seems like the least I could do given this opportunity.
When I acquired HIV as a teenager back in 1992, you’d be hard pressed to name a single politically influential LGBT person anywhere in America, let alone 100 from a single state! Nobody was talking about gay marriage. There were no workplace protections back then, no gays in the military. What we did have was a hostile government and an equally hostile Catholic Church driving our nation’s AIDS policy. Which might explain why the life-saving AIDS “cocktail” was still years away, something I blessedly wouldn’t need until 1998.
Many listed below played a huge role taming the AIDS crisis and then delivering a raft of pro-LGBT laws in its wake. This list also includes the next generation of LGBTs already making their mark on the New Jersey political landscape. They’ve snatched the baton in a purposeful manner befitting a generation raised to dream bigger than mine ever could.
And that’s the point, isn’t it?
This is a list of mostly progressives but we have many conservatives in our ranks too. You’ll surely notice some familiar names doing the tributes. I wrote most of them, but it was thrilling how many of y’all, our readers, volunteered to do the honors for one (or more) people named below.
I was on the train when tributes came in via email from Senator Cory Booker and ex-Senator Bob Torricelli. Their eagerness to participate in the project was moving and also very empowering. And in that moment I recalled my time as an HIV+ teenager with a debilitating, deadly secret and reflected on the immense progress we’ve made in a single generation.
We’ve come a long way. And that’s what we’ll celebrate in the pages to follow…
Download the 2018 Insider Out 100: LGBT Power List or view it below:The 2018 Insider Out 100: LGBT Power List