Thursday, June 24, 2010

AA.com/Rainbow Salutes Rainbow Team Founder Rick Cirillo

FORT WORTH, Texas – This June in celebration of LGBT history and pride, American Airlines’ Rainbow Team today released an exclusive first-person interview with former American Airlines sales manager and Rainbow Team founder Rick Cirillo. For the first time in public, Cirillo tells of his chance 1973 encounter with the late gay civil rights pioneer Harvey Milk – a once-in-a-lifetime friendship that simply began when Milk asked Cirillo, “Do you want to help?”

The Cirillo interview about his own times with Harvey Milk recites memories of the early days of gay civil rights organizing and their intersection with other early figures and leaders including the late journalist Randy Shilts and then San Francisco politician Diane Feinstein.

In 1994, Cirillo founded American Airlines’ innovative LGBT marketing strategy and launched the Rainbow Team, almost 20 years after first working alongside Harvey Milk in his Castro Street camera shop and serving as a dedicated campaign organizer for the next several years in San Francisco. Rick Cirillo at the age of 62 and following his retirement from American Airlines, works now in Spokane, Washington for People to People Ambassador Programs. He is also an openly gay father and grandfather with his husband of the past 12 years, Curtis Southworth.

Rick Cirillo has always been a trailblazer,” said George Carrancho, present day manager of the Rainbow Team, and former colleague of Cirillo. “While serving here at American, he dedicated his professional career to building bridges and to taking our first steps as an inclusive and respectful partner for the LGBT community. To the best of our knowledge, just by starting the Rainbow Team, he began the very first dedicated LGBT marketing group at a major American corporation. We all stand on his shoulders today.”

In addition to the Team’s dedicated community website, www.aa.com/rainbow -- Carrancho connects with thousands of LGBT customers, friends and allies through a monthly Rainbow Newsletter to share special events, promotions and travel tips. For this month’s issue of Rainbow News, Rick Cirillo agreed, for the first time, to tell his entire story and to recount his friendship with Harvey Milk that began nearly 40 years ago.

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