An activist's memory lane

by Mark Segal

From Philadelpia Gay News: In recent months, it has occurred to me that a little research on my past was in order for a project that has occupied my time for the last few years.

The first step was to take out the old, dusty boxes that have been just sitting around for decades and see what they had in store for me.

There were many surprises, old photos, family items that brought back fond memories, items from my time in New York City - but the most surprising was a 1970 receipt from my first arrest for gay activism.

A little LGBT history - From the ashes of the Stonewall Riots, or rebellion as some call it, was created Gay Liberation Front. GLF built on those nights after Stonewall and created the roots of almost all that we have today as a community. We were the first LGBT organization in the nation that was LGBT in your face, and we did not stand for laws and oppression against us. That first year we had many demonstrations, and it seems I got arrested at one (since we had many, I can't recall which one it was).

We in GLF still keep in contact and recently I asked my fellow GLF brothers and sisters if they recalled what my arrest was for. The answer surprised me. John Knoebel sent an email that stated that he had been subpoenaed to testify, and like me, he couldn't recall what it was for either, and like me, he still had the subpoena. Needless to say, that shows the energy and amount of activity that GLF went through to create a new movement that wasn't just asking for rights but demanding our rights. And more importantly, it shows that we were going to do what it took.

The lesson here is that maybe in those states that do not have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws, such as Pennsylvania and 30 other states, we need a little more activism and creativity, and a little less pleading.


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