Neil G. Giuliano is an American gay rights activist. He was the former four-term Republican mayor (1994-2004) of Tempe, Arizona. He chaired the commission in charge of hosting the third debate of the 2004 United States presidential elections. He has served as President of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) since September 1, 2005.
Question: How has technology changed the LGBT community?
Neil Giuliano: Well what has happened over time, as technology has allowed us as a community to communicate with each other and to communicate externally more and more, we’re able to learn more, we’re able to have more knowledgeable information about society, and so people are more educated. More and more—there are very few people around I think anymore, especially within the 20 to 30-year-old demographic, as we were talking, that believe sexual orientation is a choice. I think everyone really acknowledges now sexual orientation is not a choice—and even if it was a choice we live in a country where we should be able to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—but it really isn’t a choice. And so we talk to people who say, “Well you’ve chosen this.” We say, “Well tell us about the day that you chose your sexual orientation, let’s have that conversation.” And of course you can’t do that because people don’t choose their sexual orientation. And so we’re seeing from the outgrowth of that, people then are more understanding, they’re more appreciative, they’re more willing to accept—not tolerate but accept—people who are different from themselves with regard to sexual orientation, and that's what is our path toward full equality in society.
Question: Has the Internet changed the LGBT scene?
Neil Giuliano: I’ve talked to some bar owners actually who have seen a decline in people showing up to some of the clubs—this is from Arizona where I know some of the owners of some of the clubs—and so some of their mid-week business is off, probably because people don’t--. The gay community now doesn’t have to go to the bar that’s hidden down the dark alley with the entrance at the back of the building anymore, we don’t have to do that, and that’s very, very good. And so we’re able to be out, we’re able to be open. And so people are using all the means that they can. And I think the technology of the Internet, I think it is impacting the way that people communicate and interact with each other, without a doubt.
Recorded on: Mar 4 2008