The Campaign Within: A Mayor’s Private Journey to Public Leadership
Neil Giuliano placed himself on the political map by becoming the openly gay mayor of Tempe, Arizona in 1996. His unique circumstances and the witch-hunt that led to his public revelation drew national attention, prompting high profile individuals, such as friend John McCain, to offer personal assistance. The journey didn’t end with his announcement. Giuliano later faced a nasty recall election spearheaded by anti-gay activists. Thankfully, this story is one of triumph.
"The Campaign Within" traces the narrative of Giuliano’s life from his time as a young boy until his current role as the CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The resulting project is a stunningly apolitical book, a personal memoir that displays how normal our elected officials can be.
The majority of "Campaign" focuses on Giuliano’s personal struggle against his own sexuality leading to his eventual empowerment as an activist. It’s an honest endeavor, wince-inducing in sections. Giuliano embodied the same level of closeted cluelessness with which a great many openly gay individuals can remember from their initial years of sexual explorations. He also faced the same darkness and contemplations of ending his life.
Giuliano does best when outlining his public work. His dedication to constituents and general fairness is refreshingly non-cynical. He recalls those who helped him throughout his campaigns from college until becoming mayor. Contemporary politicians would do well to note this humility and deference that should be a basic part of the job we expect from public servants. Even when given opportunities to take pot-shots at nasty opponents, Giuliano takes the high road each and every time.
The verbose reminisces on Giuliano’s personal life lack the cohesion of his professional dialog. While his handling of the sexual scandal is enlightening and interesting, as is the honest accounting of his dark struggle, the constant musings on the body types of men he finds attractive and his personal pontification on religion are not. The lack of maturity in describing his dating life slides into territory that would make Nicholas Sparks envious, detracting from the much more serious explorations of his struggle and overcoming. These asides are made more frustrating by the extreme maturity and restraint Giuliano displays when discussing his professional life.
While "The Campaign Within" isn’t a perfect book, it’s an honest and humble account of a public servant-turned-CEO’s life and work to ensure a world that’s a little bit more fair for everyone, LGBT or otherwise. That admirable goal and attitude permeates every page, and it’s good to know a story like Giuliano’s could land in the lap of a trapped young person waiting for the inspiration to bravely make a difference.
"The Campaign Within"