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Phoenix’s High Five

Monday Apr 28, 2014

This article is from the September 2014 issue of EDGE Digital Magazine.

Don't let your opinion of Arizona be swayed by SB 1026. On the ground you'll find plenty of progressive legislators, community leaders and creative entrepreneurs who also happen to be members or allies of the LGBT community.

We're naming Phoenix's "High Five" in honor of Glenn Burke, the professional - and openly gay baseball player who was ahead of his time during the late 1970s. Society wasn't ready for a gay athlete, but that didn't stop Burke from standing his ground. Find a copy of "Out at Home," his memoir published the year after he died from AIDS-related causes.

Burke is also often credited with accidentally inventing the "high five" during a dynamic game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros on October 2, 1977. Dusty Baker had hit a home run for the Dodgers in this last game of the season, and when rounding third base for home, Burke, who was on deck, raised his hand high and teammate Baker gave him a smack. Burke then hit it out of the ballpark and Baker returned the gesture. The high five was born.

Nearly 37 years later, we're jumping out of the bleachers for five individuals who are making an impact in Phoenix and beyond.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

Mayor Stanton (along with his wife, Nicole) has long supported LGBT rights in Phoenix and was a driving force in influencing Governor Jan Brewer’s decision to veto SB 1062. In 2013, Mayor Stanton spearheaded an effort to pass a sweeping antidiscrimination ordinance that made it unlawful to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation, gender identity or disability for the purposes of employment, public accommodations, housing and government contracts.

In response to SB 1062, Governor Stanton wrote, "Despite the message the Legislature has sent to the nation and the world, I know Arizonans are inclusive and accepting, and understand that our collective differences make us stronger. I could not be more proud that Phoenix is one of only 25 cities in the country to earn a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index."

Lew Gallo

A creative and merchandising visionary, Lew Gallo is the driving force behind UNION, a locally owned independent concept on the east side of Biltmore Fashion Park -- one of Phoenix’s most notable shopping centers. Gallo says that the national exposure from SB 1062 may be a good thing for the city and the state. "Phoenix is growing and progressive. There is a much larger percentage of people who live in Arizona that don’t believe in Arizona politics."

UNION features an ever-evolving array of local retailers and artisans, many of which showcase LGBT designers. Gallo’s shop, For the People, is a microhub for great design and lifestyle products.

U.S. Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema

U.S. Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona’s Ninth District holds multiple degrees, is a marathon runner and has a pretty keen fashion sense. She also happens to be the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress. Sinema told The Washington Post last year regarding her sexuality: "I don’t have a story to tell. I don’t think this is relevant or significant. I’m confused when these questions come up. I’m not a pioneer. I’m just a regular person who works hard."

Actions speak louder than words, though you might want to read Unite and Conquer. Sinema wrote the book in 2009 while a state senator, and it is as an exploration of progressive politics and how to build successful coalitions.

Gabriele Bertaccini

There may be no better poster boy for Phoenix’s LGBT community than Italian heartthrob Gabriele Bertaccini. Born in Florence, Bertaccini spent five years at the prestigious Instituto Professionale Buontalenti per Servizi Alberghieri, specializing in Tuscan cuisine. That talent and passion eventually resulted in the creation of iL TOCCO, a multifaceted culinary brand including catering, special events and Culinary Mischief, a monthly six-course food and wine-tasting event held in Phoenix, Los Angeles, New York City and Florence. It’s by invitation only, so make nice with the chef.

Bertaccini has a long-standing association with the Human Rights Campaign and regularly donates his time and talents to support their LGBT initiatives.

One Voice Community Center

One Voice Community Center
A letter to the editor of a local publication was the spark that ignited One Voice less than a decade ago, but since that time the LGBT community center continues to grow, moving three times since its founding to accommodate its ever-expanding programming and initiatives. Offering everything from social networking and support groups to creative outlets including yoga and writers workshops, One Voice is at the epicenter of Phoenix’s LGBT community.


  • , 2014-04-28 13:34:49

    Then why oh why do Arizonans keep voting these haters into office?

  • , 2014-05-23 14:19:56

    apathy... think it does not matter (it is only one vote) go to and register. then vote in the primary AND in the General.. do it!

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