Published September 18, 2018
Michael Venturiello (EdM ’16, Higher Education) is currently making a positive impact in his own community as the founder of Christopher Street Tours, a company that provides free walking tours of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) history around New York City. The company also offers LGBTQ Bar Tours and LGBTQ workshops on advocacy and social justice.
“My initial influence for this company was inspired by a book I am currently writing, a historical fiction piece on the Stonewall Riots [the birthplace of the gay rights movement],” said Venturiello. “I was doing a lot of research on LGBTQ history to make the novel as authentic as possible, then I moved to New York City about two years ago, which made the history and research I was doing come to life.”
Venturiello realized nobody around him was discussing how monumental the LGBTQ history was in New York City, which influenced him to obtain his tour guide license and create Christopher Street Tours. Part of the company’s mission is to share LGBTQ history across all levels of community, including local, national and global.
He credits the higher education program for his success. The graduate program encouraged him to critically think about different worldviews and perspectives. “I was able to learn more about my queer identity and the history of the queer community at UB,” said Venturiello. “I also learned more about advocacy, activism and the importance of representation, which are all aspects I include on my tour.”
He would eventually like to spread his tours across the globe by speaking at different colleges and universities nationally and internationally, presenting on the LGBTQ movement, advocacy and social justice. “I like to think that we have a personal impact when someone takes a tour with us, and they feel inspired or changed by the stories we tell on our tours, as a potential call to action,” said Venturiello.