Special Issues » Pride

Olivia's Dlugacz is a traveling trailblazer

by Cynthia Laird

Olivia Co-Founder Judy Dlugacz. Photo: Irene Young<br><br>
Olivia Co-Founder Judy Dlugacz. Photo: Irene Young

  

She's been an entrepreneur in the women's community for most of her professional life, founding a record company and then moving on to co-founding a successful lesbian-focused travel business. Now, Judy Dlugacz will be front and center in Sunday's Pride parade, where she's one of the community grand marshals.

This year, Olivia Travel marks its 25th anniversary. Started in 1990, it's now the world's largest company serving the lesbian community, with cruises and resorts, including riverboat trips, and safaris and other adventures.

Dlugacz, 63, was busy traveling this spring and not available for an interview. She and her partner, Claire Lucas, recently hosted a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C., where Dlugacz splits her time when not in San Francisco â€" or on an Olivia cruise. She and Lucas are also holding an event in support of Clinton Thursday in San Francisco with special guest, Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

A few months ago, when the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee announced her selection as a grand marshal, Dlugacz said she was excited to be chosen and looks forward to riding with her contingent in the parade.

"I am thrilled to be chosen as a grand marshal for the most important Pride in the country," she told the Bay Area Reporter at the time. "I started going to SF Pride in 1978, the year Olivia Records moved to the Bay Area and released Lesbian Concentrate, an album of artists who came out to make musical response to Anita Bryant."

Bryant, of course, is the anti-gay former beauty queen who at the time was a spokeswoman for Florida orange juice.

According to her biography on the Olivia website, Dlugacz has served as president of the company for 30-plus years. She had a vision to create visibility and freedom for lesbians through her involvement with the record company and Olivia Travel.

When Olivia charters a cruise or organizes a trip, it books the whole ship or resort, Dlugacz explained, unlike other lines. That makes it a haven for lesbians who embrace their community and have fun.

"Today, we march under the banner of Olivia Travel and celebrate 25 years of creating exclusive vacations," she said this spring. "And throughout this time Pride has been there each year celebrating and marching, showing the world that we will accept no less than our full rights."

To Dlugacz, the Pride parade is a visible symbol of the fight for equality.

"The parade also reaffirms that our community has a strength of commitment to the diversity of our community and an understanding of the preciousness of freedom."

Dlugacz has received numerous awards from business groups over the years. She has been recognized by the Golden Gate Business Association, an LGBT chamber of commerce, and honored by Ernst and Young as its northern California Entrepreneur of the Year.

Her commitment to community is exemplified in the many nonprofit organizations Olivia Travel has supported. These include the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, and the Lesbian Community Cancer Project.

 

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