MARK MY WORDS: We have arrived

Mark Segal

From Philadelphia Gay News: Listen up, LGBT America.

The history of your struggle for LGBT equality is about to go mainstream. Just like the struggle of the black community, the Polish-American immigrant story or the Jewish heritage experience, we as a people have a story that also deserves to be told. For many years, society has tried to keep it hidden, and some in our very own community still wish many of us activists would simply just shut up.

But, thanks to those individuals who would not give in, we are at a point today where people are not only talking about our issues, but they are trying to understand how we got to this point in history.

To that end, the first major, full-scale historical exhibit of our history, told through the lens of the law, will open this week at the National Constitution Center. That display, 'Speaking Out for Equality,' can be viewed in the same building as a copy of the Bill of Rights and artifacts from throughout American history. As the line goes: We've arrived.

This column has been a part of a group of local LGBT newspapers across the nation that every October celebrates LGBT history, which we've been doing for 10 years now. When we began the LGBT History Month Project, it was difficult to get people to appreciate our heritage as a movement and as a people. This year will be our largest effort in every way, which points out that our community is now willing to look at its past, a past that at times was very bitter.

The NCC exhibit also does that, by showing the horrors that some LGBT people had to endure, like lobotomies. It also shows how we fought our way out of those traps and to a point where we are about to celebrate marriage equality across the land.

As some advocates continue their quest to create a national LGBT museum, and while The Smithsonian and other institutions are seeking personal collections of LGBT activists, it is great to see that a major museum partnered with the LGBT community to present an exhibit that captures not only what it was like to be LGBT in the 1950s, but also shows us what we should be looking at today. Remember, when you see the lobotomy tools, think about today's contemporary lobotomies - they are called conversion-therapy camps.

We can learn from our own history.

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation's most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at or Twitter at

Connect with us