All of them describe Virginia “Ginny” Apuzzo. The New York native played a pivotal role in LGBT civil rights and the fight against AIDS. A former nun, Apruzzo came out after Stonewall and never looked back.
She joined the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and served for many years as its executive director, working to include LGBT issues in the 1976 Democratic Party platform. In 1978, she co-founded the Lambda Independent Democrats.
During her tenure with New York City’s Department of Public Health, Apuzzo became one of the earliest, most vocal female AIDS activists in the country. She was also a part of Gov. Mario Cuomo’s administration in New York State and served as executive director of the New York State Consumer Protection Board where she investigated products touting a cure for AIDS.
In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the White House senior staff as assistant to the president for administration and management, making her the highest-ranking out lesbian in the federal government.
Her long list of honors includes:
- The first Human Rights Campaign Fund Award
- Special citations from the Gay Men's Health Crisis and the New York Civil Liberties Union
- The Victory Fund Award
Now retired, Apuzzo calls South Florida home.
– Denise Royal
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Table of Contents: SFGN's OUT50 2019
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