PROVINCETOWN — In a year with a record number of anti-equality bills proposed by elected officials across the country, state Sen. Julian Cyr introduced legislation to create statutory protections for transgender people seeking access to essential health care, including those who may have to travel here from out of state to get it. These protections would ensure that gender-affirming care is a civil right in Massachusetts.
This year Cyr also made Out magazine’s list of 100 LGBT+ movers and shakers. The annual list honors those leaders who Out’s editors say are helping to “steer the ship through the storm. They help find the rainbow through the rain.” The 2022 list includes three other such leaders with ties to Provincetown.
Sharon Callahan: Out honored Callahan for her 30-year career in marketing, advertising, medical education, clinical programs, and publishing.
Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 was a catalyst for her activism. “I was complaining about it to a friend, who pointed out that complaining will never solve anything,” Callahan says. Her friend encouraged her to channel her anger into action. She did. She joined the board of the LGBT Victory Fund. Callahan points to the success of LGBT+ political campaigns in the midterms and notes many of them of them were supported by the Victory Fund.
In 2016, Callahan founded her own health-care advertising agency network: TBA\WorldHealth. She’s also been chief client officer at Omnicom Health Group, which is the world’s largest and fastest-growing network of health-care communications companies. In 2018, she was named Industry Person of the Year by Medical Advertising News and, in 2019, the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) recognized her as its Woman of the Year.
Callahan has also served on the boards of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, GLAAD, HBA, the Arthritis Foundation, Women Against Alzheimer’s, and the Coalition for Healthcare Communications.
Callahan, who says she feels as if she’s spent most of her life in Provincetown, recently shifted her home base from New York City to become a full-time resident here. With 14-month-old twins at home, she has turned her focus to executive coaching, which she does online.
Russell DeGraff: As a senior policy adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DeGraff has earned a reputation as someone who gets things done. Out calls him one of the most powerful gay men in Washington. But when the House is not in session, DeGraff lives in Provincetown.
“As a Massachusetts voter, I’m excited to see how Maura Healy will work to make the state better and thrilled that Julian Cyr and Sarah Peake will return to Beacon Hill,” says DeGraff. “These out officials are teaming up with Keating, Markey, and Warren in D.C. to protect our rights from judges and legislators looking to roll us back to darker times.”
He encourages people to get involved, noting that something as simple as writing postcards can have an effect.
Watching the Barnstable County sheriff race, he says, “I liked Donna Buckley’s fresh ideas backed by experience in the sheriff’s office.” He gets out the postcards. “I sent about 40 postcards to let voters know why she’s awesome,” he says. “Maybe someone who got a postcard had no idea what was at stake.
“I wouldn’t be able to do my job for Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats,” says DeGraff, “without thousands of everyday people taking time from their busy lives to be involved in the process.”
Joe Machota: When he started at the influential Creative Artist Agency in New York City in 2006, Machota says, “I was the first out LGBTQ+ hire in that office.”
At that point, he recalls, he made a promise to himself: that he would come out in every professional meeting with someone new. “At the time, it felt like a very small step,” Machota says. “I would insert ‘as a gay man’ or ‘my partner and I’ into every new conversation so others knew I was an out and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Out honored this talent agent, who heads the theater department at CAA, for furthering the cause of workplace visibility. Some of the world’s biggest gay stars are Machota clients, including Ricky Martin, Ryan Murphy, Billy Porter, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jim Parsons. Machota is a part-time resident of Provincetown.
“As I continuously came out in the workplace, I felt it made it easier for those who came after me,” Machota says. “Then we formed our LGBTQ+ Alliance, which is now led in part by someone I hired as an intern 10 years ago.”
Julian Cyr: State Sen. Julian Cyr of Truro is in his third term representing Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket and is one of the youngest senators in Massachusetts. Wastewater issues, climate change, opioid addiction, and criminal justice are just a few of the local issues that fill his agenda. Cyr helped mobilize aid for the Venezuelan immigrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard from Florida last summer after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s move left them stranded.
But Cyr is particularly proud of the work he has done for the LGBTQ+ community. This includes support for health-care access for transgender people and access to vaccines against monkeypox.
“I want people to recognize the incredible power of showing up,” says Cyr. It’s something he thinks starts at the local level. “Just showing up and speaking at a town meeting is enormously powerful.”