#28. MARIA DIBARI - “Someone who runs a crisis center.”
That’s how much space the officer at the scene had to take Maria DiBari’s testimony and to describe the injuries that left her temporarily paralyzed.
Eight lines on a police report that Maria would later have to beg to have reversed.
In 2007, Maria was brutally assaulted. Her spinal cord was compressed. There is a metal plate and at least nine screws in her left leg.
Her attacker was her husband.
Maria, a middle-class, educated chemist living in the New York suburbs, found herself someone she’d never thought she’d be: a victim of domestic violence.
100 Interviews posts about a gay Republican and suddenly, there’s an earthquake on the East Coast. You do the math. The gay, gay math.
#8. Gregory T. Angelo (Log Cabin Republican) - Someone with my opposite political beliefs who has held public office
It would not be unusual to find Gregory T. Angelo at a Kiwanis club in Missouri standing in front of a room full of people who think he is an abomination of the Lord.
Or maybe at a church in Mississippi shaking hands with people whose fathers and grandfathers would have shunned him or worse. Or making good with people who simply, have never met “one of those gays” before.
Greg’s willing to let them gawk. He tells them though our Constitution is informed by Christian principles, the Bible does not govern us. He sits through question-and-answer sessions. He listens to opinions. He doesn’t judge and he doesn’t condescend. He brings along other members of the LGBTQ community. He brings evangelical parents, like For the Bible Tells Me So’s Mary Lou Wallner whose lesbian daughter committed suicide after Mary Lou and her husband didn’t accept her. She speaks about the importance of acceptance, often telling groups: “It’s better to be kind than to be right.”
“Everything that they’ve seen and heard and read in the media hasn’t given them a good impression or even a realistic impression of what an average gay citizen of the United States is like,” he says. “[It’s] to really show these individuals that gay people are just like you and I. They’re trying to live just like you are, just trying to get by. They’d like to have a family. They’d like to be recognized with the same equal rights and protections that heterosexual couples have under the law and that everyone should have under the law.”
Gregory T. Angelo does all this because he is a gay Republican. To some people, that may as well read: “Gregory T. Angelo is a Jew supporting Hitler” or “Gregory T. Angelo is the Easter Bunny.”
#96. LAUREN DELUCIA - “Someone who’s worked in the White House.”
Laura DeLucia joined the Marines partly because she didn’t want to be a fraud.
A former Barack Obama campaign volunteer and then, logistics coordinator, she’d been offered a position in the fledgling administration’s defense department. A college athlete in cross country and crew, Laura had become fascinated with the United States’ defense since she was a college student in Washington DC during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Working in the defense department was a dream come true.
But something held her back.
Laura had never been in the military. ‘How can I work for the defense department without knowing exactly what it means to defend?’ she thought. “I hadn’t earned it,” she says.
The age cut off for the Marines, 29 years old, was fast approaching for Laura. She knew it was now or never.
Laura left her office job and enlisted in Marine Corp Officer Candidate School. The first part is a year-long process involving countless physical and mental tests. I tell her I picture the actual school training like a movie - running through tires, climbing a wooden wall, clamoring up a crisp white rope. Laura says I’m not far off. Plus, with only 24 women to the company’s 200 men, there was no room for Laura to slack off. She remembers one girl in her group keeping up with the men on a run despite being 5 ft. tall and carrying a 60 lb. pack. The fastest runner in the group was often a female.
“They have a lot of respect for you because you’ve earned it,” she says, smirking. “I’m a jock though. I love competing with guys. I love that movie ‘G.I. Jane.’”
#77. BEN (NYPD) - “Someone who has helped solve a murder.”
Today, the day after I interviewed this cop, someone in my close family was arrested.
“I just don’t trust police officers,” my mother said to me over the phone as I crouched in my office’s lobby, trying not to cry and hoping none of the suited-up business people walking by were listening to me ask questions like, ‘Well, what kind of narcotics did she have on her?’ and ‘Do you think the DUI will stick?’
My family’s a bit of a crackpot. Though my mother’s semi-estranged-then-not-estranged-then-who-knows-we-don’t-talk brother is a police officer, and though as a kid, I remember riding on the back of his motorcycle with him, everything else is a very liberal blur. My father’s a hippie who the Gainesville, Florida cops regularly tried to nail with drug charges in the 1970s. My aunt and uncle are also less than squeaky clean in that regard. A Dunn family Thanksgiving ritual involves a trip to Alcoholics Anonymous post-dinner. We’re a great bunch.
So my mother saying she doesn’t trust cops is completely understandable. I remember being in the car with her one time at the airport when an officer tried to stick her with a ticket for something completely made up. She fought the charge and won. He was lying.