When they asked my wife, Madonna Cacciatore, to come interview for the position of Executive Director of CSW/LA Pride, it was no surprise.
I’ve watched her go into situations on behalf of our LGBTQIA community for years, level-headed and with pure heart, looking at the tasks ahead and knowing she would do what was needed and asked of her.
She is always ready to take the steps needed to listen to all points of view, see all work ahead and watch everyone flourish with their strengths to grow in our community.
I am so proud (does it show?) (mush, gush). Listening to her say, “this is amazing” and know, she feels truly at home makes me happy.
The words above were her wife’s, Robin McWilliams, owner of MadCatch Entertainment. We all need such a spouse.
When Christopher Street West (CSW), the 501(c)3 non-profit that produces the annual LA Pride Festival and Parade, announced that Madonna had been appointed to the role of Executive Director, the move was widely praised.
Everyone who knows her resume seems to agree that she embodies the right mixture of leadership, development, fundraising, community affairs, and event production expertise for one of the community’s most important leadership roles. Couple that with her lifelong passion for activism and an unwavering dedication to the welfare of LA’s LGBTQ+ community and it becomes clear that we will all benefit as Los Angeles prepares for the historic 50th anniversary Pride celebrations in 2020.
CSW’s board has recently undergone something of a transformation and is comprised of several new members, including Jake Brooks-Harris, President of MKG West, Experiential Marketing; Candie Davidson-Goldbronn, Associate Senior Vice President, Foundation Operations for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; Craig Greiwe, Senior Vice President and Head of Digital for Rogers & Cowan; Tracy Paaso, Director of Membership & Events for the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce; Johanna Padilla, Linkage and Retention Coordinator at Trans Wellness Center. They join Gregory Alexander, Mistress Cyan, Gerald Garth, Kevin Kelly, Alexandra Magallon, Julie Neumark, Raul Rios, Brian Rosman, and Shayne Thomas. Departing are Steve Andrews, Chris Classen, Erica Meyer, and Marquita Thomas.
Estevan Montemayor, CSW President and Board Member said of Madonna that “CSW Board of Directors has chosen a leader who so beautifully reflects our mission and core values. I can’t wait to see what amazing things we all accomplish together.”
Robin says, “I am so proud of my wife.”
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Oh, 45 or so years. I came our when I was 6 months old. Or 19, I can’t remember. My dad. He got very upset, threw all my clothes on the bed, made spaghetti, and invited my girlfriend over for dinner. Awkward.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I have many but there are 2 who stand out: My brother Johnny who died of AIDS in New York City in 1991. His life was lived with vitality and passion and he taught me, me. I came out first and he took me under his beautiful wings, calling me a few years later to tell me that he’d fallen in love with a man. Through his life and death, he continues to teach me how to be strong, kind and compassionate. My other hero is Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Kick-ass leader. Strong. Compassionate. Great listener. Leader of the largest LGBT org on the planet.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
Besides my house with my wife and kitties? I have many. I love rooftops. Mama Shelter in Hollywood has been a place where I’ve met many cool people from all over the community.
Describe your dream wedding.
I had it with the love of my life August 5, 2017. After 14 years together, Robin and I got married at the Renberg Theatre at the Center in the Lily Tomlin / Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center. We asked everyone to wear white (they all hated us, asking questions like, “does this wedding make my ass look big?”) Everyone sang Imagine, Carole Cook roasted us, my best friend of 40 years sang, our dear friend played the piano and Lorri married us. Best night of my life.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Animals. I don’t eat them and I try to save them all. Ask my wife. It drives her crazy. I take spiders outside in a cup.
What historical outcome would you change?
The 2016 presidential election.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Producing An Evening with Women with great people Linda Perry, Brent Bolthouse, and an amazing team. Being back stage with people like No Doubt, Miley Cyrus, Carol King, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts while raising money for great work is always memorable.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Transgender Remembrance Day
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
Cacciatore. A life in many acts.
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Be exactly who I am right now. Women…yeah. I’d also like to ask science to focus on other things like discovering a way to change mean people into kind ones.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
A really awesome place of pure love. Puppies. Horses. Kittens. Kindness. No judgment.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Stay true to yourself. Surround yourself with kind, caring people. Don’t take any crap.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
To save a life or to save any living being from being hurt or tortured.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Let’s see, UHaul 2nd date, flannel shirts, softball. I’ve done all of those so I guess I like them.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
As long as I’m watching them, they’re LGBT. I did love A Fantastic Woman. Great storytelling.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Washing your hands after using the restroom. Just kidding. The forks on the left. I’m right-handed. Actually, I don’t even know which side they go on. We ate on TV trays.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Best Supporting Actor at the DC At the Source Theatre Festival years ago for my role as a washed up Miss America in Sweet Dreams, Miss America.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I could do and be anything my heart desired.
Why Los Angeles?
I got a small co-star role on The Fugitive TV show in Seattle. My background was in dance and theatre so when they walked me to me trailer for my small role, I packed my bags and moved to LA.