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|Maggie Lopez: Activism, art and surviving ‘the C word’|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|March 18, 2011 00:00|
Maggie Lopez, 51, moved to the U.S. as a child with her family as political refugees on one of the Pan Am freedom flights during the Castro revolution. She now has a successful art business in Atlanta and likes to pay it forward through many charity works. She recently underwent surgery for breast cancer and is continuing her recovery process.
GA Voice: What’s Atlanta best nightspot — past or present?
Maggie Lopez: Atlanta’s best nightspot is and has always been... Atlanta itself. Our people create the vibe. It’s really not about light fixtures or banquettes. Certain house parties here are more legendary than any nightclub.
You are involved in many nonprofits, especially For the Kid In All of Us. Why is this organization so important to you?
It’s one organization that unites people, regardless of politics or social status. Brightening the lives of children in need is on everyone’s agenda. Besides, FTK throws some fierce parties! Project Prom is our third signature event with its own debut March 20 at the W Midtown. We can’t wait.
You are going through treatment for breast cancer. Explain what you have been through and how the experience has changed you. Did you learn anything new you were not expecting?
I was diagnosed last October. I’ve had clear mammograms annually and no family history of the disease. And yet, I’m like the one house a tornado randomly hits but leaves the rest of the neighborhood intact for no reason. I underwent radical and reconstructive work in one 10-hour surgery.
Tell us a little about your business and why you love art.
A few years ago, I left a successful insurance career to form an art consulting business. I manage the collections of companies with significant art holdings. I love art because it is an imprint of an artist’s mood, experience and ultimately, existence, captured at a specific period in time. My company is named Zeitgeist ARTifacts for this reason.
Tell us about your gay wedding.
My partner Patt [Cianciullo] and I resided in Connecticut when civil unions became legal. Suddenly same-sex weddings transformed into lavish affairs. Often the bills outlasted the relationships.
We took the opposite route. After obtaining the license at our Town Hall where no doubt witches had been tried in centuries prior, we found a justice of the peace who offered us a private room for the ceremony at her partner’s restaurant. On the day of the ceremony, we discovered it was all-vegan (ironic since we’re card-carrying carnivores) and was housed within New England’s historically-first feminist bookstore.
With “Rubyfruit Jungle” on a nearby shelf, and two restaurant patrons as impromptu witnesses, we were legally wed. We planned very little of that day but ended up with a great memory and a pretty solid marriage.
What advice would you give to leaders of the LGBT movement?
Find common ground with those who oppose us, then work from there.
You have a passion for shoes. What’s your favorite pair? How high are the heels?
Naming favorites is like choosing a favorite offspring. I love them all. Equally. Let’s just say I’ve had more fun with 6 inches than a girl like me should have…
What historical outcome would you change?
The Bay of Pigs Invasion, natch.
Top photo: Maggie Lopez (by Deborah Fleishel)
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