Boston Spirit’s Top 25 LGBT Power Players of New England for 2015

Power Player 2015 OconnellSue O’Connell
Owner, Bay Windows
For old timers, the name Sue O’Connell is synonymous with One in Ten, the gay-themed WFNX radio talk show that she co-hosted throughout the ‘90s and 2000s. Because it was tucked away in a late Sunday night timeslot, tuning into the show was akin to sneaking into a gay bar, donning a hoodie and dark glasses. Or a first kiss. To be sure, O’Connell’s influence as a pioneer of Boston’s gay media has left an impression on (and provided education to) generations of gays and lesbians.
By the time O’Connell became the host (taking over from Mary Breslauer who was the original host from 1993-6), she had already established herself as the editor of its namesake, an LGBT insert for the Boston Phoenix, launched in 1993. The stint led her to Bay Windows, a weekly newspaper, as Associate Editor. An effort in perseverence, Bay Windows, the largest and only surviving LGBT newspaper in New England, today lists O’Connell in the masthead as an owner.
What makes O’Connell and her efforts endure? Agility and commitment.
Today she also writes and hosts Dangerously Normal, a YouTube channel featuring her commentaries on everything LGBTQ.
“I don’t necessarily think of myself as a powerful person. Whatever influence I might have comes from the work I’ve been doing in the media for close to 30 years,” she says. “The ‘power’ I wielded, so to speak, originally came from simply being out in unexpected places.
“While it’s hard to believe that it was once unusual to be out in the media, it’s true.”
Power Player 2015 RosenbergStan Rosenberg
Massachusetts State Senator Majority Leader (and presumed President of the Senate, as of press time)
Yes, there is a world outside of Boston.
It’s a fact that many of us often forget, but not Massachusetts State Senator—and presumed President of the Senate, as of press time—Stan Rosenberg. His dedication to the people of Western Massachusetts is a hallmark of his long service in the legislature. As a resident of the Pioneer Valley for more than 40 years, Rosenberg, who has served in the legislature since 1991, has been an active member of the community. He and his partner Bryon Hefner can often be found browsing the farmers market for fresh produce for his “famous” tomato sauce, or at a church supper, pie auction, or one of the many cultural events that he attends.
In chambers, though, he’s changing the world. Dean of the State Senate, an honorary title recognizing his tenure as the longest serving member of the Upper Chamber, his handling of sensitive subjects such as legislative redistricting is viewed as the model for inclusivity and transparency in government. It also highlights his reputation as a problem solver.
“I rarely discuss these facets of my character because I don’t practice identity politics. I’m interested in problem solving, I practice policy politics,” says Rosenberg adding that his colleagues should share that credo for the equality of all.
“One need not be a member of the LGBT community to understand and advocate for the causes that are important to us. However, as a member of the LGBT community and as an elected official, I feel I have a responsibility to serve as a role model, to encourage other members of the community to not let labels hold them back from reaching their true potential,” he says. “The issues that are important to the LGBT community are informed by the issues we are struggling with as a Commonwealth. How to work towards shared economic opportunity for all, maintaining and increasing access to quality and affordable higher education, ensuring that our air is clean and our energy green—these issues affect all of us and all of us should be working for solutions.
I don’t think there’s a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ list of issues for the LGBT community. Now more than ever, our success or failure as a community, a Commonwealth, and a nation is dependent on the success of our fellow citizens, LGBT or not.”