Amy Maggio


1) Full name:

Amy N. Maggio

2) Birthdate:

March 2, 1949

3) City/state where you were born:

New York

4) City/state where you live currently:

Chicago, Illinois

5) Education:

Iona College/New York University
DePaul University (Chicago)

6) Career:

Currently the president/CEO of a public relations/marketing communications healthcare practice with clients nationwide – marketing and public relations specialty areas are HIV/AIDS, GLBT health and public affairs, and advocacy initiatives.

7) Did you serve in the U.S. military?


8) How do you describe your sexuality and your gender?


9) Do you have children and/or grandchildren?


10) If you are GLBT, please describe when you first “knew”:

I “came out” as a lesbian and a woman who loves women at 30 years old.

11) Who did you first “come out” to and in what year?

I was married to a man in my 20s but increasingly felt drawn to women not only physically, but also emotionally and politically. I became active in women’s issues and feminist issues in early college days as well as civil rights issues. My wanting to be embraced and supported by women and for women became very clear to me, and I went through the process of divorcing my husband and becoming involved with a woman.

I became very active in feminist, civil rights, and early GLBT politics at Northern Illinois University (DeKalb) through my first significant woman partner, Faith Morgan, who was pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology at NIU. We were both very active in establishing a chapter of NOW on campus as well as insisting on a dialogue about the inclusion of “lesbian” issues in the women’s studies department.

12) What troubles did you face as a GLBT person?

I had a very easy and supportive time in coming out and being embraced by my friends and family.

13) Did you have mentors in the Chicago GLBT community?

I moved to Chicago in 1985 and first became involved in the early formation of Chicago House. I met Arlene Halko, who was one of the early volunteers, and ultimately met Thom Domkowski during those days. I was hired as the first director of development for the newly formed AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) in 1987 and was part of developing the first major AIDS civic event, The Show of Concern (1987). AFC grew to a large foundation over the years, and I was significantly involved in their growth through new and innovative fundraising/marketing programs: Not Just Song and Dance, Dance for Life, Dining Out for Life, Jim Guth HIV/AIDS Fund, the Marshall Field Fund, Art Against AIDS/Chicago, and AIDS Art Auction/Chicago.

14) Involvement in organizations (GLBT and/or mainstream):

Center on Halsted - Maggio Lobby (major donor, volunteer)
AIDS Foundation of Chicago 1987-1992 (director of development, acting executive director)
National Stop AIDS Project/Chicago 1992-1996 (executive director)
IMPACT - GLBT political PAC (founding board member)
National Victory Fund 1993-1995 (board member)
Equality Illinois 2004-2005 (co-chair with Michael Leppen)
National Victory Fund 1993-1995 (board member)
Lambda Legal Defense Fund (co-chair, donor, chair of Into the Woods 2007)
CDC HIV/AIDS Marketing Committee (current)
Chicago Houses 1985-1986 (volunteer)
Test Positive Aware Network/TPAN 2006

15) When you were coming out, what were your favorite Chicago GLBT bars?

Augie and CK’s, Swan Club, Lost and Found (L&F), and Paris Dance

16) What were the key issues faced in the GLBT community when you first came out?

There were a number of early issues facing the GLBT community. I came out and became active in HIV/AIDS early issues and delivery and program issues in Chicago. The first office for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) was located in the old Children’s Memorial Hospital on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. There were only two staff at AFC, Marsha Lipetz and Amy Maggio.

The early formation of the Service Providers Council had as its membership Howard Brown, Horizons, and Chicago House. There were very few providers in the mid-‘80s; of course the number soared to well over 100 HIV/AIDS and GLBT health providers by the early ‘90s.

Enormous issues about discrimination for those affected by HIV/AIDS translated into a growing concern about privacy, healthcare, power of attorney, partnerships, hospital visits, family, legacies, etc. There is no question that HIV/AIDS activism transformed GLBT activism and gave these issues its voice and foundation. Many women, particularly lesbians, joined forces and began to really become involved in these critical issues. Caretakers, donors, leaders and volunteers, the lesbian community began to unite. However, issues of identity, women-only issues, surfaced as the women’s community began to look at its own issues ranging from breast cancer, service delivery, coming out, family, etc.

17) What issues do you see as key in the GLBT community today?

The “Coming Out” issues of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s have most certainly been replaced by the partnerships and civil rights and equality issues for the 21st century. From my perspective, there are still profound class, race, and gender identity issues that confront the GLBT community. “Activism” appears to be at an all-time low. The “shelf-life” of issues like HIV/AIDS as well as breast cancer has taken back seat, in some regards, to marriage equality and extension of rights.

Frankly, I think that the big issue facing the GLBT community is gender identity and inclusion. I think that there is still a great divide in our community particularly around class and gender identity.

There is still the pervasive need to identify – the good gays and the not-so-good gays…. Sexism is rampant and reflects the greater community that continues in this struggle. As a GLBT activist for many years, not a day goes by without some gay man asking me, “Where are the women and why don’t they come or contribute to events?” Clearly, the women’s community is seen as monolithic and should respond and walk in lockstep with the gay male community. It still remains an issue to address.

Sustainability of volunteers, leadership, and growth of leaders in our community should be a real touch point. The need, however, to become more homogeneous, more assimilated with the straight community has led, I think, to a loss of some culture, some identity, and some common purpose.

18) Describe what you feel your personal legacy is to the Chicago GLBT community.

I never considered legacy until my dear friend Michael Leppen named the lobby at the new Center on Halsted for me. That gift, through that generous expression, requires me to stay involved, to remind and reflect on our mutual history, to continue to bring people together, to fight the good fight, to “play as well as I can in the GLBT sandbox.”

Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community, the book is edited by Tracy Baim and features the contributions of more than 20 prominent historians and journalists. It is published by Surrey Books, an Agate imprint, and is hard cover, 224 pages, 4-color, with nearly 400 photos.
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