Words from Mark (143 Articles with 264,826 total views)
Opinions and commentary from Mark Segal, publisher of Philadelphia Gay News.
A New Pennsylvania
Last week, the Fairness Act was introduced into the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. I've seen this scenario many times before, but this time, there's hope. Pennsylvania's Fairness Act is similar to the Equality Act in Congress. Both legislations have one thing in common: they have both been introduced and re-introduced numerous times over the years to no avail. Year after year it seems almost like whiplash. The legislation is introduced but never goes anywhere. When one hurdle is passed, another one stands in the way. But there are now some promising signs in Pennsylvania.
True Colors of Stonewall
Imagine if you could go back to Stonewall the first night of the riot. What do you see? Red, brown and black. That's my answer to anyone who asks me what the inside of the Stonewall looked like before that infamous raid on that now famous night in 1969. It was inexplicable to me why those colors were in my memory. That changed a few weeks ago, when during an emotional visit to 51 Christopher Street, the memory of that building and the memory of that night returned to me and helped me realize why those colors were front and center in my mind when it comes to Stonewall. More on that in a moment.
A visit to a British LGBTQ+ Museum and Oscar Wilde's jail cell door
When I was planning my trip to London last month to speak on LGBT History, it was requested that I add a speaking stop at the Queer Britain museum, which focuses on British LGBTQ history and culture. I didn't know much about it, since it just opened last year. But as I learned more, my speaking there soon became one of the more interesting events that I was looking forward to.
The War on Drag Queens and Story Time
Facts: drag queen story time was invented in 2015 by a woman named Michelle Tea who felt that story time events at libraries were too heteronormative. Another reason was that we needed to get kids back to children's stories rather than new media and social media. Hence the idea to get kids back into libraries. That is a noble effort.
Celebrating the Love in our Lives
I'm writing this on Valentine's Day, and for those romantics out there, I think you'll appreciate this column. To all others, be warned you're about to read a column that should be described as full of saccharine.
Joe Biden was right: an election on experience and age
Joe Biden was the big winner in last week's election. So was our community. Let's look at Joe Biden's win and LGBT wins and examine what they have in common. We'll also learn why Joe Biden's age was a major factor in both wins.
No Red wave, but big RAINBOW WAVE
There might not have been a red wave in the midterms, but there certainly was a rainbow wave. There are so many takeaways from the midterms on what drove the result. Mainstream media is fixated on how poorly Republicans did, how Trump candidates failed, and how Trump wound up being the big loser. Abortion rights won across the nation where it was on the ballot, and it became a major issue as some predicted.
Brutal murder of Palestinian gay man is a reminder to all LGBT people
A 25 year old man was killed. His attacker first brutalized and then beheaded him. Did I mention he was gay? Did I mention he was Palestinian? And did I mention that he had fled Palestine and applied for political asylum in Israel because he was frightened for his life? But he was killed not in Israel, where he had escaped to for security, but in Hebron, Palestine.
Is There LGBT Culture?
Do we as LGBT people have a community and a history? Do we have a culture? You'll find the answer by looking at what society considers a community, a culture, and a history.
A week in Chicago and Canada
August isn't supposed to be busy, but as we've all learned, this year seems to have lots of surprises. Last week was no exception for us. It was a learn and share week with stops in Chicago and Ottawa, Canada, and in addition to all the new experiences, it was even better because I got to travel with my husband Jason.
A shout out to those who are visible and Heroes
Many of you are the current heroes in the battle of equality, and you might not even be aware of how you helped get us to the small gains we've already achieved, so thank you!
Stonewall & Visibility at 34,000 feet up
On my United Airlines flight from London to Newark, when boredom set in during the seven and a half hour trip, I decided to see what they had to offer in their entertainment selection. I was totally surprised to find a "Pride Collection" that featured many LGBT films and more. What was more surprising was to find a documentary that I'm in was included as part of this collection on the flight. It's the Smithsonian channel's "Beyond Stonewall," which showcases the LGBT artifacts and stories behind them that are now part of the Smithsonian American History Museum's LGBT collection, including my items from that first Pride and my personal papers and artifacts from the last 53 years of activism.
What's the bigger threat: language or legislatures?
You're about to be erased, but rather than focus on the real enemy, you're wasting time frightening off the people who might be the foot soldiers at your side. Let me ask a question? What is important to you? Your marriage? Your right to have intimacy with the person you love without the very real threat of being incarcerated? What about getting the surgeries you need to be your true self? What about the right to control your own body? What about the right to not allowing quacks to practice legalized torture, otherwise known as aversion therapy, on LBGT youth?
If you ask any of us who were part of organizing or marshaling that very first Pride in New York in 1970, you would hear one word about it: joy. Yes, it was a protest that came one year after Stonewall, but it was also a celebration of our fighting back. We were celebrating a community that we had begun to build that included organizations which delivered services, information and activities to the LGBT community, services that for the first time were not centered around then-illegal clubs and bars. So Pride actually translates to protest and celebration, and that Pride came from walking out of our West Village, Christopher Street Ghetto and marching publicly uptown to Central Park. We were Out, Loud, and Proud!
British Government's anti-Trans Conversion Therapy policy
Last week the British government presented its plan to outlaw conversion therapy, but the ban does not cover gender identity, and thus does not protect members of our trans community. In 2017 I wrote a column titled "Conversion therapy is child torture." Five years ago we knew the practice was mostly used on children. With our Trans community becoming visible, especially at younger ages, trans children are now a prime target of those who practice this ugly form of torture. Here's a look back at my column from 2017:
Does Pope bring Change to the Church?
Way back in 2013, this column did something that no one ever expected: it showed hope for the future of the Catholic Church, directly because of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina becoming Pope Francis. You have to recall that until that time, this column was a drumbeat of pushing reform in the Church to end its hateful and harmful words and tactics against the LGBTQ community.
The continual process of naming our community
There's been an interesting debate going on in our community, and it's been a continuous one for many years now. It's fascinating to watch the ins and outs of this issue. So let's delve into it.
Trans women in sports is a fight for equality
There's an important issue in the community and around the country that many of us don't understand fully, and it involves members of our trans community participating in sports. It's been so misreported in the mainstream media that even fellow members of the LGBTQ community don't understand the nuance. Let's face it, it's been a complex subject, but I'm going to attempt to bring it into terms that we can all appreciate.
Cheers to HRC and State Troopers
The Human Rights Campaign's "Municipal Equality Index" is considered the gold standard in measuring how over 500 city governments provide services and welcome their LGBT citizens. One of the simplest questions for a city to gain points is, to me, one of the most important in the whole index: Does your city have an LGBTQ+ liaison or commission?
Sports bringing LGBT visibility to Arabia
From Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News: Some very exciting news is happening in the sports world that is changing the worldview on LGBT rights equality and changing culture. Specifically, it's happening on the racing track.
How connecting the dots change LGBT History
from Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News: I'm in Chicago, Skokie to be exact, at the Illinois Holocaust Museum, which is hosting the LGBT history exhibit "Rise Up Stonewall." The exhibit features pivotal moments and artifacts from the history of the LGBT rights movement, including my work disrupting the TV networks in the '70s. I'm here to give two keynote addresses at the Holocaust Museum's Student Leadership Conference, which has about 300 students and teachers in attendance from four midwestern states.
In the 1970s, my parents pioneered LGBTQ visibility
From Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News: The person I am today is mostly due to the support my parents gave me throughout my life. All the contributions that my work has produced is based on the security they gave me growing up and their continued support of my activism as I tried to raise national LGBT visibility. In standing by me, it appears that my parents were the first out and proud parents in Philadelphia. While I always give them credit in my talks, I also have to explain that I didn't have anything tangible to hang on to as a keepsake other than my memories. Which brings me to something that has always made me sad.
Not all TV Drag Queens are just fluff
All Drag shows are not the same. "RuPaul's Drag Race" panders while "We're Here" on HBO creates change.
Chappelle is transphobic, and he also degrades our history
The more I listen to the debate about the Dave Chappelle Netflix special "The Closer," the more I believe that most of those who are attacking his transphobic remarks didn't watch it or just saw a short clip. There is no doubt that the special is transphobic, but it is more than that. If you have watched it and condemned only his transphobic remarks, you might want to watch it again and note how he reduces the whole of LGBTQ history to bathroom sex.
The fight for equality is rooted in visibility
Most in our community are not aware that now is the time that will choose the direction of the struggle for LGBTQ equality. Yes, we are at a pivotal time. Just take a look at what has happened in the last month:
Is this good news, really good news?
The good news is that Switzerland has legalized same sex marriage by a referendum on the voting ballot. The bad news: 46% of those in Switzerland still do not wish to treat their LGBT citizens with equality. Yes, we've come a long way, but in a country like Switzerland, it's a surprising outcome.
Rainbow Railroad working to help LGBT Afghans flee country
When the Taliban were in control of parts of Afghanistan beginning in the late 1990's, they made clear that the strictly followed Sharia Law, which according to their interpretation means that those who have sexual relations between members of the same sex are condemned to death. They not only state it, they publicize it. During their rule they went so far as to publish photos of those who were hanged.
What I learned on my European Pride tour
After speaking engagements, diplomatic LGBT Pride receptions, and meetings with LGBT activists, Parliamentarians, and Deputy Prime Ministers in U.S. embassies across Europe in the last 10 days, what I learned was that the LGBT community internationally still to this day looks to the U.S. movement for inspiration, and they do so with three words, one of which surprised me and made me appreciate the need to be aware of our history and where we must go to be inclusive as a community.
Pride is about visibility at WPVI
About a month ago, Channel 6 ABC's out meteorologist Adam Joseph contacted me about the station's plans for its employee Pride day event and asked if I'd be their speaker. It would be the last of the almost 20 speaking gigs I've done for Pride month this year, and a great way to end the month. I hadn't realized that it also would mark a major turning point in my life.
Tale of the 100 year old Lesbian Rebel
This column is written under duress. Just kidding. It's actually written with great respect to honor the work of one of our community's most esteemed historians, Jonathan Ned Katz, and his latest work which brings to light an incredible story of an almost unheard of lesbian rebel from the 1920's.
From Stonewall to the White House
From Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News: For me, Pride month is always full of surprises ever since I was a part of that very first New York Pride back in 1970 when I was 18 years old. Everyone seems to want to share a piece of it, and I'm always happy to oblige. I love speaking about that time and helping people understand what it was like. I especially enjoy the pleasant surprise when an organization who I never would have expected asks me to speak. But I was not prepared for one of the surprises that came my way this year.
Many countries still reject, torture and kill LGBT people
President Biden has stated that our foreign policy would be based on human rights which include the respect for LGBT rights. His Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, went even further by issuing this memorandum on February 4th: "Pursuant to President Biden's memorandum, the Department of State in coordination with relevant federal agencies will use a broad range of diplomatic and programmatic tools and resources to protect vulnerable LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers; combat criminalization of individuals on the basis of LGBTQI+ status or conduct; ensure that our diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons and advance nondiscrimination; and allow swift U.S. responses to human rights violations and abuses of LGBTQI+ persons."
Philadelphia Gay News 45th Anniversary
Who would imagine that starting a newspaper for the LGBT community would put you on the KKK hit list? That was only the beginning for PGN. Next came the break in and trashing of our offices, ripping out wiring, destroying the plumbing. Vending boxes destroyed or glued shut. Then there was a court injunction threatened by Keystone Blue Cross. The refusal of journalism organizations to allow us to be members.
"Religious freedom" is not about religion. It's about money.
Here's a secret that has stopped the Equality Act in its tracks in the U.S. Senate. The Republicans and religious leaders have framed the subject as one of "religious freedom," and have won that debate since our lobbyists aren't addressing it as it should be: religious institutions wanting special rights to discriminate. And let's not forget the boogieman/women they use is our trans community. But why, you might wonder, does the religious right put up so much of a fight against the Equality Act?
The homophobia in artificial intelligence
From Philadelphia Gay News: Ran across an article in Forbes about how A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) will never be LGBT friendly. Why does it matter?
Biden's first month is one for the LGBT history books
One month into his term as President, Joseph R. Biden has done more for LGBT equality than any President's full body of work in an entire four year or eight year term. Here's the summary.
Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta announces run for U.S. Senate
February 18, 2021 11:44 pm - State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, the first LGBTQ person of color to serve in the Pennsylvania Assembly, is entering the 2022 race for U.S. Senate. A member of the Pennsylvania House since 2018, Kenyatta made his announcement February 18 on MSNBC. He hopes to win the seat currently occupied by Republican Pat Toomey, who is retiring.
The Dog Day of Quarantine, literally
Like many of you, Jason and I are going into our eleventh month of quarantine lockdown, or as we are now calling it, the Dog Days of Quarantine.
The biggest LGBT stories of 2020
From Philadelphia Gay News: Although Trump continued to chip away at the rights our community has attained over the last few years, we did make some amazing gains in Trump's final year as President. The importance of some of these earth shattering changes have been overshadowed by a lack of historic knowledge.
Mayor Pete in the steps of Von Steuben
From Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News: In my October Q & A with candidate Joe Biden, I asked whether he would put LGBT people in his cabinet. His answer was "I'll nominate and appoint federal officials and judges that represent the diversity of America, including LGBTQ+ individuals."
Georgia On My Mind
This column could be filled with the names of those in the LGBTQ community who expect or should be considered for position in the Biden/Harris administration. But there’s something even more important at the moment that needs to be addressed. There are two runoff elections for the United States Senate in Georgia which will decide who controls the US Senate. The Democratic candidates in those elections are Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. We need to elect both of them on January 5th.
Biden pledges support to LGBTQ community
PGN Exclusive: This Q and A with former Vice President and now Democratic Candidate for President Joe Biden starts out with a meeting in 2012 when a group of us met in the Vice President's office in the White House to find a way to fund an LGBT senior affordable living facility. That building is the John C. Anderson LGBT-Friendly Apartments, a hallmark of Philadelphia's LGBTQ community. We start there.
When to not cover a Trump story
From Philadlphia Gay News: A Trump "gay pride" rally was recently held in our back yard. PGN chose not to cover it. Similarly, a few weeks ago, the Philadelphia LGBTQ community made their voices heard and another forum involving a Gay Trumper was cancelled. PGN did not cover that and did not name the person involved. To name them means to give them publicity. And that's all this administration wants and all they care about: their image. They couldn't care less about their actions, which have been horrible towards the LGBTQ community.
Cole Doman as Mark Segal
If you've heard the rumor about my book, I'm here to tell you that it's not a rumor. It's true, and no one is more surprised than me. So guess I should tell you how it all happened?
My Notorious RBG Moment
In the 1990's, the U.S. Senate was attempting in every possible way to censor this new thing called the Internet. They soon came up with an idea to stop information that might be objectionable to a particular community, an idea which would have allowed a district attorney in, say, Alabama, to prosecute any web site it found objectionable. The penalty was six months in jail and a $50,000 fine per incident. To further make it palatable to their base, the Senate said the legislation was designed to protect children. They titled it the Children's Online Protection Act, COPA for short.
This election is your Stonewall moment
You might be like most people right now who are just sitting back believing that the lead in the polls that Biden/Harris have at this point is impossible for Trump to come back from. That would be wrong. Just look at 2016 when all of us thought that it was in the bag for Hillary Clinton, when all of us thought Trump could never, ever get elected. Were you one of the 102 million people who did not vote?
Trump revealed how he'll steal the election
Last weekend I had just finished Mary Trump's book "Too Much and Never Enough," when I decided to turn on TV. There was Donald Trump, the world's most dangerous man, as the book says, holding another campaign rally disguised as a press conference.
How to use fame and foster dialogue
Most of you know actor Billy Porter from the TV show "Pose" or his starring role in the Broadway hit "Kinky Boots." He is also a strong proponent of LGBT rights, especially in the Black community and even more so for trans people of color. He was one of the first voices to speak up when Kevin Hart's homophobic tweets became an issue that it caused Hart to drop out of hosting the Academy Awards. To describe Hart's attitude, which was that if he found his son playing with a doll house he'd crash the doll house over his son's head, Porter coined the phrase "super masculinity" among straight Black men and their discrimination against Black gay and particularly Trans people of color. While Ellen Degeneres praised Hart for his weak apology, Porter spoke as a man who has personally felt that oppressive sting. His words started a new dialogue in the Black community, a discussion of hypermasculinity as well as the Black church. To say it was controversial is an understatement.
Staying busy during the new coronavirus pandemic
Each of us is trying to find a way to deal with COVID-19. We could go on a rant about all the mistakes made by and lack of action from our amateur president, but I've already done that so much that I'm almost orange in the face - pun intended. But we should step up and thank the media. Its media that gave you the truth about what is actually happening. Did you notice when the president said, "Anybody who wants a test can get a test"? It was the press that showed you tests were not available. When he told you there were enough masks, it was the press that showed you the shortage in hospitals and for EMTs. When he said, it will be over shortly, and we only have five cases, maybe we'll have 15. It was the press which not only told you he was wrong but showed you the truth. And the biggest lies - when he first knew of the virus and his response to it. That is why we were, and still are, unprepared.
A pilgrimage to where my hero lies
From Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News: You should know this name. Over the holidays, I had the closest thing to a pilgrimage that I'll ever know.
Many of you don't know the name Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, but when I'm asked who my LGBT hero is, the answer is, it's him. To put it simply, Hirschfeld is the father of the LGBT movement for equality. You might think it was those of us at Stonewall or those at the Independence Hall marches or those even earlier like Harry Hay and the Mattachine Society in 1950. But all of us don't hold a candle to Hirschfeld, who started his work, not in 1950, but 65 years earlier in Berlin, Germany in 1896
Stonewall is not my legacy
One of my favorite movies is "Some Like It Hot," starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. It's one of those old-time 1950s screwball comedies. At one point, Marilyn Monroe looks at Jack Lemmon - in drag no less - and says, "On my next birthday, I'll be 25, a quarter of a century - makes a girl think."
Taking stock of life during Stonewall 50
Like many, as the year ends, I usually take a look at what kind of year it has been. For me, 2019 was the year of Stonewall 50 and celebrating 50 years as an activist for change. This year turned out to be the busiest of my life, and thanks to you, it gave me an opportunity to take stock of not only the year, but my life as well.
LGBT representation on TV and a thank-you letter
A few weeks ago, this column touched on the subject of why the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime, both of which run romantic holiday movies 24/7 during the holidays, don't have a film celebrating an LGBT couple.
Hallmark, Lifetime, the gay question
Like me, I'm sure you're beginning to think about the holidays. The Hallmark Channel and Lifetime are already running holiday romance movies 24/7. This year, not only do they have holiday movies for the Black community, they even have one that has a Jewish storyline. Wonder if they have a Chanukah bush? These new movies are an attempt to be diverse and inclusive.
Real political power and you
Have you ever thought about combining politics and a hobby with community service, and at the same time being a cog in the wheel that could bring us all equality? Well, here's how you can do just that.
Is PrEP forgetting the LGBT community?
em>From Philadelphia Gay News: If you're a member of the LGBT community, you're affected by HIV/AIDS in many ways. And if you needed information related to AIDS/HIV when the crisis emerged, there was only one reliable place that you could turn: your local LGBT newspaper, like this one. At that time, the mainstream media, even The New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer, were derelict in their duties as media sources and journalists. If you needed to know where to receive treatment, what drugs were available to help, and new organizations that were formed to help support the fight, the only place you could find information on a regular, reliable basis was your local LGBT newspaper.
A week like no other in a long life
It was one of the most magical weeks that I'll ever have. When I headed to New York by train, it was already announced that I'd be one of the grand marshals of the Stonewall 50 World Pride parade, and that meant marching with my Gay Liberation Front sisters and brothers.
On the road again
Each year Jason and I do a road trip. The rules are very simple: We try to go to places we haven't been, the place must have something we've heard about that is slightly odd, and the place must take us out of our comfort zone so we can see what it's like living out of our East Coast liberal bubble.
Stonewall 50 excitement
From Philadelphia Gay News: Around the nation, people are beginning to notice something stirring in the LGBT community.
Let's win the election first
If you are like me, your position on the 2020 presidential election might come down to this: You will elect any of the Democratic candidates for president, no matter how far they stray from your views, because the current occupant is flawed and an embarrassment to our country.
This historic year: 2019
This year is a major historic notch for our community. It marks the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. If you weren't already aware, within 60 days, not only you but everyone will begin to notice leading up to that last Sunday in June, since most of the TV networks and scores of museums and cultural institutions will unveil their ways of commemorating Stonewall 50.
Elections and whom the LGBT community should support
Once upon a time, the LGBT community had no LGBT choices in politics, only LGBT-friendly candidates, who weren't LGBT themselves, to endorse.
The question of Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett of the TV show "Empire" has recently been in the media and it's not a pretty story.
I don't do movie reviews, but...
There is a movie that by seeing its trailers and advertising on TV, you'd have no expectation that it has any relevance to you or our community.
Far-right video game spreads hate
If you want to know what the far right that supports President Trump thinks of you, they want you dead. You think I'm kidding. Well, from those wonderful folks at Pink News comes a report on a new video game that does just that.
LGBT commission makes history - again
History is repeating itself 42 years later. That's where my thoughts were as Jason and I were on Amtrak on our way to a reception at the Pennsylvania's Governor's Residence this past Monday.
The Beginning of Pride
From Philadelphia Gay News: As we go to press, I'm preparing to travel for my last of four speaking gigs this June, all for Pride month. There are various reasons why groups ask me to speak during Pride month. Some are familiar with my column or writings; others want me to speak about publishing in the LGBT community; still others, a point of LGBT history I've been personally involved with. But I'm sure that very few know that when they ask me to speak, especially during Pride month, I'm going to speak about organizing that very first Pride, since what most of them don't know is I was a part of that, and a death this past week just before New York's Gay Pride made me think a lot about what Pride stands for.
The facts of LGBT discrimination
This week, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney won a major court case that will most likely make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court and affects our community more than the super-hyped wedding-cake case. And guess what? Almost no one noticed the significance of this major turn of events, but with much higher stakes, not only for you, but especially for religious organizations. Why does it loom large, with billions in tax dollars? Yes, we've reached a new stage of our struggle, where discrimination against LGBT people could cost billions - that's billions, with a B - of dollars to those who discriminate, or it could legalize discrimination.
Talk is not cheap
From Philadelphia Gay News: Ah, summertime - the living is easy. We toss our cares to the wind, head for a little R&R and, for many, that great summer vacation. So it should be a time to relax, lay back and enjoy the sunshine. But wait, we're five months from an election. Here's where I can envision you saying, "Mark, why are you bringing this up now?"
When political connections allow discrimination, we fight back
For our family at PGN, this has been what you might call a mixed couple of weeks. It started with the death of one of our extended family members, Mike Petty, the husband of Don Pignolet, who has been with this paper since its beginning. Naturally our hearts and first concerns were with Don.
Finding common ground in LGBT Health centers
from Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News: Last week, the LGBT medical clinic in Philadelphia, Mazzoni Center, which serves more than 35,000 clients, announced that the board had appointed a new CEO. Lydia Gonzalez Scirarrino, it turns out, is not LGBT, and that seemed to distress some people in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. How could a non-LGBT person head an organization that has a majority of its clients from the LGBT community?
Future World LGBT Leaders
From Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News: This week I had a great honor. While we in the United States are concerned with the state of our struggle for equality, and worry each day how the Trump administration wants to dismantle the gains we've made, I had the opportunity to meet this week as part of a program from the U.S. State Department called the International Visitor Leadership Program. Seventeen future leaders from central and South America visit the United States, and what the program does is try to show young future leaders of various countries how the U.S. political system operates. Part of that is community involvement, including the LGBT community. The fact that this is still being done under Trump makes me wonder how long before Mike Pence pounces on it.
Media milestones & GLAAD
From Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News: There were two events this week of great magnitude to the LGBT community that mostly were just seen as everyday occurrences, but I assure you they were not. Both are media related and if we've learned anything in our community, being out changes the world, and being out in media reaches the masses and educate the general public on who we are and what we are all about… and let's not forget that there are many places in America that still don't know us and we don't reach, but media certainly can and will.
Abuse and sexual harassment in our community
The current presidential administration does not understand spousal abuse or sexual harassment. Most are saying that the person at fault stops at the door of the chief of staff but, no, it stops in the Oval Office at the desk of President Donald Trump.
That Amazon LGBT Ad
The national obsession with where Amazon will plant itself reached new absurdity last week when numerous media outlets published a report that a group of gay activists were going to run ads suggesting that many of the 20 finalist cities should be disqualified based on LGBT equality criteria. One of those 20 was my own Philadelphia.
Is North Korea gay-friendly?
from Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News: With the North Korea situation being in front of the news, the answer to that question is simple: No. But it gives us an opportunity as a community to look at how the U.S. and our community are dealing with other nations and their LGBT policies.
Steve Bannon, Trump Campaign and LGBT Media
Want to hear a presidential campaign secret? Well, it's been a year so guess I can tell this strange story. I'll leave some names out for obvious reasons. During the presidential election, every newspaper worth its weight in newsprint attempts to get interviews with the principals in the race. Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) received unprecedented access on the Democratic side. We interviewed almost every principal from campaign manager Robby Mook to vice presidential candidate Tim Kane. We even had interviews with the leaders of Congress and the Senate: Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer. No one else in LGBT media has ever been granted this much access in one election cycle before, unless you count the coverage we did from Denver eight years earlier. You'd think we'd be very pleased and rest on our laurels. You know us better.
The Kardashian-ization of Chelsea Manning
A few weeks ago, I wrote a column stating that all we needed to do to resist Donald Trump is to be united and vote in 2018. Seems simple, doesn't it? The most important part of that statement is "united." Maybe I should have added the importance of being united with those who have been part of the resistance and supported our community. Then maybe I should have added that this is no time to split the community, or our vote.
A Jewish Christmas tale
from Philadelphia Gay News: When I was young, about 11, Jewish kids didn't acknowledge Christmas as anything other than just another day, but we appreciated that it meant something important to our Christian neighbors. The reality was, since our neighbors were Christian, it was a boring day for us kids as our friends were with their families enjoying a day that in American culture is one for family, and we felt excluded.
An open letter to the citizens of Alabama
From Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News: I am an openly gay man, so you might say you hate the sinner part of me but love me as a person. You also might tell me my civil rights are special rights that infringe on your beliefs. But most importantly, you'd say the LGBT community is immoral.
Goals for the upcoming New Year
OK, someone has to say it. We've survived the first year of the trump administration, but it has done damage to both the country's reputation and our community. And if you feel that way, 2018 is your year to correct that path.
Giving thanks for community
Ah, Thanksgiving - the start of what we call the holiday season, but if you've seen any TV, looked at a newspaper or been on a website recently, you've likely noticed that the season seems to have already started. Many people call this the "joyous season." But for many LGBT people, this is not a joyous season, especially the most disenfranchised in our community - youth who were forced out of their homes or, worse, forced into "conversation-therapy" camps; trans people who were disowned by family and friends; and seniors, most of whom came out in a time when there were no rights and little tolerance, especially from family.
Trump Human Rights - LGBT Disaster
Much has been made of the lack of attention to human rights by President Trump on his recent excursion to Asia. This, by and of itself, represents the United States giving up the mantel on this subject since we first gained prominence on the issue during the Jimmy Carter administration in the 1970s. We were the international leader for this proud cause, and president after president - regardless of being a Democrat or a Republican - raised it on foreign trips. We are told that Trump mentioned the topic of human rights only in passing to the president of the Philippines during this trip. This is a warning sign for many in the LGBT community throughout the world. Recall a nation called Uganda: If it were not for the intervention of the United States, its legislature would right now have a "Kill the Gays" law.
With Pence the lapdog, is a Trump impeachment a bad thing?
Is it not obvious by now who is controlling President Donald Trump and his anti-LGBT crusade? Vice President Mike Pence, who made a national name for himself as governor of Indiana by pushing "religious-liberty" laws to allow citizens to ignore LGBT rights for religious reasons. That's not to mention anti-trans legislation he supported, and his backing of conversion therapy - all of which Pence sees as his contribution to the moral fiber of America, and his legacy.
From Asia, with Pride
I've been traveling out of the country for the last couple of weeks, and with what seems to be so much disagreement in our community on a range of issues, and the ongoing doubts about where our struggle is leading, I thought I'd share with you a few snapshots from my trip - which should give you a different view of our community and our accomplishments.
Silencing LGBT Pride in Egypt
Donald Trump and his fake excuse and misdirected attack on the NFL players who are kneeling for social justice have some people saying it's a sign of a leader cracking down on the First Amendment, which leads to an authoritarian state. Think that's an overreach? Take a look at a similar issue in another country with an already-authoritarian state.
'Gypsy' the musical is LGBT history?
LGBT history can be found in every aspect of our lives. Sometimes it just comes as a surprise to learn that something, or someone, you've known about was gay. Given the title of this column, you may think this is going to be about the lyricist of "Gypsy" - my favorite Broadway composer, Stephen Sondheim, who's gay - it isn't. And if you think it's about another member of the production company of that original Broadway bombastic hit - so many of them were gay - again, it isn't.
This weekend, NLGJA: The Association of LGBT Journalists has its annual convention, held this year in Philadelphia. The organization and its membership may not be what you expect. For the most part, the focus is not on LGBT media, but rather the organization serves as a place for LGBT journalists who mostly work in mainstream media, in places like CNN, MSNBC and news divisions of the three major networks - NBC, ABC and CBS - as well as print media like New York Times, Washington Post and, of course, Philadelphia Inquirer.
Glass half full of progress?
I saw a picture today of a young gay couple standing next to an older heterosexual couple. Then, I noticed that the two men were holding up their hands to show their wedding rings and the older couple must be one of their parents. It brought tears to my eyes, and I don't even know these guys. What went through my mind was, isn't it wonderful that we live in a time when not only can two people in love marry, but a majority of the country supports our rights?
Rizzo, Philadelphia Gay News and the BBC
The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) is the world's largest broadcaster. It began in 1922 and has a stellar record for its journalism, both news and its fascinating documentaries, which at times seem to be pigeonholed to the most under-looked parts of humanity.
Conversion therapy is child torture
To the entire LGBT community: Let's begin as a community to state the truth without putting lipstick on a pig. Personally, it sickens me when I see someone from GLAAD or HRC on television calling conversion therapy "praying the gay away." That is downright as truthful as a Donald Trump tweet, and might show how we attempt to soften our message for consumption by the mainstream. Or, it might hide something very sad: our own attempt to not accept what has been done to us as a collective community for years - and that, my friends, is torture.
The power of no
You might have noticed that this summer has been slightly different for me, but that comes after five years of constant motion. People keep saying they can't keep up with me and asking when I'm going to slow down. Well, that question has been answered this summer.
What did America do on its summer vacation?
It's the last week of August - or what are known as the lazy, hazy last days of summer. Soon schools will open and, as many of us will recall, many teachers will ask their assembled students, "What did you do with your summer vacation?"
From Philadelphia Gay News: I'm writing this column on Jason's and my third wedding anniversary. Since marriage is something new for our community, and us, I thought I'd share what has been a learning process.
America's newest museum recognizes LGBTs in our revolution
America's newest museum, Museum Of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, does something quite revolutionary: It recognizes the LGBT community as having played a part of that revolution. And it does so with several exhibits.
Chicago Dyke March: Full of shame!
From Philadelphia Gay News: Hard headline, so let me make it more clear. Whoever is in charge of the Chicago Dyke March has their heads up their asses. If you've read this column before, you've never read language like that from me before, but I'll let you judge. Here are the facts: About 1,500 people gathered to be a part of the Chicago Dyke March earlier this month. As with many LGBT events, people bring their own posters, picket signs and flags. There were signs representing many views at this march but organizers asked only one group to leave: three women with rainbow flags with a Star of David superimposed on them.
My take on this year's Gay Pride controversies
From Philadelphia Gay News: Pride is very special to me, since I helped in the first Gay Pride march in 1970. At that time it was not a "Gay Pride" march, but rather a march to show - using today's terms - our resistance to society's portrayal of us. It was also a celebration of what we created in the year since the Stonewall Riots. But mostly, it was a statement that we no longer would be in the closet. We were out loud and in your face!
Rainbow flag - bringing us together?
From Philadelphia Gay News: (This year's protest at Gay Pride celebrations at various events around the nation on a host of issues led me to pen this op-ed) There is no question that the rainbow flag has become the symbol of our community's fight for equality. And that flag that the community embraces has gone through changes but never any that have been so publicized as the recent updates that were made to it in Philadelphia. That makes me want to ask, What's all the fuss about?
Coming to terms with Marsha P. Johnson
A couple of years ago, the author and director of the Academy Award-nominated "How To Survive a Plague," David France, contacted me for his next project. We chatted a few times and then he arrived at my door with a complete film crew and research staff. He was going to spend the day filming me talking about my sister from Gay Liberation Front in New York, Marsha P. Johnson. Last week, France was kind enough to ask me to the Tribeca Film Festival for a showing of that film, now titled "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson."
This week, I'm writing about an issue that sheds new light on a subject we all think we know: Stonewall. Earlier this week, my husband Jason, who teaches creative writing at Boston University, handed me an anthology of the best science-fiction stories of 2016. The book, edited by John Joseph Adams, has a story by Sam J. Miller titled "The Heat of Us: Notes Towards an Oral History." It's literally a science-fiction account of Stonewall.
Answering Facebook Questions
I asked, you answered. Every so often I ask my Facebook and Twitter friends (about 30,000) to suggest subjects for me to address in this column. Here are some recent suggestions:
The rise (and fall) of an LGBT miniseries
How many of you watched the ABC miniseries "When We Rise"? Not many, according to the ratings.
Obama made us cool
There is no other U.S. president who can stand even close to the legacy of President Barack Obama on LGBT issues. In fact, you could stack all the LGBT gains accumulated from every president before Obama together and they wouldn't come close to those made during his administration. No one column could simply list all his achievements on behalf of the LGBT community but there is one that most of our community, seems to be blind to: Thanks to President Obama, it became cool to support LGBT equality.
Trump as easy as 1, 2, 3
1. Trump is President-elect. If that angers or frightens you, don't get upset, get involved.
Op Ed: You must vote for Hillary
You have no choice but to vote for Hillary Clinton. Your very life depends on it.
VP nominee Sen. Tim Kaine: Equality Act a 'priority' for Clinton administration
In an exclusive interview with Philadelphia Gay News, U.S. Sen. Tim Kane, the Democratic nominee for vice president, recently shared his views on LGBT issues and what his position in a Clinton Administration might look like. This interview started out addressing my conversation with Kaine at the Democratic National Convention the night he was officially nominated.
Homelessness: An ignored community issue
You most likely thought I'd be talking in this column about the race for president but I'm not. This column is instead about a subject close to my heart: our homeless LGBT youth and homeless transgender people.
Mark My Words: Donald Trump, Orlando and Nazi skin-heads
Like many of you in the LGBT community, I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from allies here and around the world after last month's mass shooting in Orlando. But I also have many questions and am perplexed by what I m seeing and hearing as some people attempt to explain or use this incident for their own purposes - or even to bash other communities in our name. Those mixed feeling are slowly building up to anger.
Tracing the LGBT DNC legacy
The Democratic National Convention that will convene in Philadelphia July in just a couple hours with LGBT history on full public view. This will be the first national political party convention with LGBT participation on every level: the largest number of out LGBT delegates and delegates at every level, from a small county district to super delegate, from county commissioner to U.S. Senator. And while the Republican platform suggests same-sex married couples are at risk of raising drug-addicted children, denies transgender people any rights and asks that women not be allowed equal duty in the military, the Democratic platform embraces LGBT issues in broad strokes - from the Equality Act in Congress to the military and trans rights.
Corporate equality, from Comcast to Charlotte
When you're in the media, you get invited to events where you see other media professionals with whom you work. So it was no surprise when I showed up at a press conference last month to preview the Fourth of July Wawa Welcome America celebration that I saw my friend David L. Cohen, who is Comcast's senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer.
Mark My Words: Sugar high
The Philadelphia soda tax is a local story, but it's also one that is playing out nationally. And, if you haven't already begun to pay attention to it, you should.
Orlando, They didn't die in vain
When you used to say the word "Orlando," it brought up the image of Harry Potter, Disney World castles and waterparks - but it now conjures a different image: that of mass murder at the Pulse nightclub. In time, that image will cease to exist for most of America; the city of Orlando will want that imagery to be lost, as will the many tourist attractions that call it home. Families will again visit in droves, and they should; it is not the fault of the city or its attractions, it's the fault of one lone, possibly unstable, man.
We're out and proud. Especially after Orlando.
I woke up Sunday morning to the horrible, alarmingly common news of an incident of gun violence and terrorism. But this one was different: The shooter's target was the LGBT community. I learned about the incident as I was getting ready to march in Philadelphia's Gay Pride Parade. I never questioned whether I would march, but it took me hours to realize why.
First ally governor
Listen up, LGBT history fans. When you think of LGBT history, you likely think of San Francisco or New York City, but the truth is, 40 years ago, Pennsylvania was at the vanguard of the American struggle for LGBT equality. You're probably thinking I'm going to mention those pickets outside Independence Hall every July 4 from 1965-69, or the Dewey's sit-in in 1965. None of the above.
Mark My Words: Change through communication
This last sleepy, dreary, overcast Saturday, you might have missed President Barack Obama as he gave what many might say in the future was one of his best speeches of his presidential years. It was a commencement address at Howard University, and it was a call for what he has consistently stood for: hope. It was also an urge to those in attendance to get involved, and not be afraid to engage with those who do not agree with us, for change only happens with communication.
You asked, I answered
This week's column is (mostly) not about Donald Trump. Instead, as I do from time to time, I asked my Facebook friends to suggest topics. So here goes:
A 40-year PGN journey
From Philadelphia Gay News (April 11, 2016): Last Friday I attended a meeting of the National Gay Media Association, an organization of the publishers of the LGBT legacy publications. At one point when we came back from a break, Lynn Brown, publisher of The Washington Blade, asked all to rise but me. She then asked all the other publishers to toast me and PGN on our 40th anniversary.
MARK MY WORDS: Historic honors
Last week, this newspaper was informed that, for the third year in a row, we have won a Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award. This time it was for our staff's coverage of last year's Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. The award is given for deadline reporting of a major story: how the staff covered the issue, how that coverage affected readers = essentially, that the publication gets the basic of reporting and does so well, and on a deadline.
Moving forward, looking back
Jason and I went to a heterosexual wedding last weekend. (I wonder if heterosexuals say, "I went to a gay wedding last weekend"?) Anyway, it was the first one we've been to since our own wedding. We were honored to be asked to be a part of the ceremony itself; we got the opportunity to watch the faces of our friends, Jesse and Mark, as they went through a monumental change in their lives.
'Queer': Word du jour?
From Philadelphia Gay News: There seems to be yet another controversy in our community this week. The issue du jour is over HuffPost changing its dedicated LGBT site's name from 'GayVoices' to 'QueerVoices.' While there are strong opinions on both sides of this issue, when I heard about it, it brought a smile to my face.
The Republican SCOTUS gift
From Philadelphia Gay News: OK liberals, the Republicans, in their "wisdom" have said they won't consider President Obama's nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. By taking such an approach, the GOP has handed liberals a golden opportunity - and shown their absolute stupidity, as they trip all over each other to enter the clown car and be the first to utter their obstructionism.
Words from Mark - Iowa: What it means
From Philadelphia Gay News: Finally, the Iowa caucuses have come and gone and with them come the pundits and candidates with their spin. But what about the LGBT spin? Let's look at what those races meant and maybe do a little crystal-ball predicting.
Philadelphia Gay News: 40 Years Strong and Counting
From Philadephia Gay News: This is a very special week here at PGN On Jan. 3, we marked the 40th anniversary of the first issue of PGN. We'll have an official 40th-anniversary edition and event later in the year; stay tuned for that information.
Words from Mark: Insensitive, anti-Semitic protests
From Philadelphia Gay News: When I was a boy of 13, my grandmother took me to my first civil-rights demonstration to teach me about racism and social justice. She knew those issues well: Our family fled from the pogroms in Russia, others in our family perished in the Holocaust and Grandmom even fought for women's rights.
Mark My Words: New Year's
From Philadelphia Gay News: What a year, and what a ride. As we all do, I'm beginning to look back at my year. And for me, it certainly was a special year, one in which I learned a lot. Let me share with you some of the lessons I took from 2015.
MARK MY WORDS: TRUMP and mob Mentality
Let me ask you, readers, if you feel I'm going a little far when I suggest that I'm frightened that some people running for the highest office in the land are encouraging mob action like it has not be seen since 1938 Europe?
Starting a new chapter
From Philadelphia Gay News: One of my favorite movies as a kid (and to this day) was Auntie Mame.
An activist's memory lane
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.
Another Catholic conflict ahead of papal visit
From Philadelphia Gay News: Oh, how I hoped to not be writing another column about the World Meeting of Families in September, but actions by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput and the Catholic League s Bill Donohue must be answered.
Calling out Chaput
From Philadelphia Gay News - July 19, 2015- Archbishop Chaput in his actions this week proves to be exactly what our friends in Denver, whose archdiocese he previously led, warned Philadelphia about: a man with little respect for humanity.
Invite to Pope Francis to meet U.S. LGBT Catholic families
Many of us in the United States are looking forward to your visit, especially here in Philadelphia, where you will attend the World Meeting of Families. You have told us time and again that the Church isn't a toll house but the house of God where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.
MARK MY WORDS: We have arrived
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.
SCOTUS: Why should I marry?
From Philadelphia Gay News: You'll read a lot of marriage-equality articles and news items in the next few weeks thanks to the pending ruling on the subject by the U.S. Supreme Court - but likely none like this one.
LGBT History must be preserved, not revised
From Philadelphia Gay News, April 30, 2015 - There is a national spotlight on the 50th anniversary of the first LGBT demonstrations in front of Independence Hall that took place every July 4 from 1965-69. While it was a pivotal change in the struggle for equality, some are revising our history out of context by stating it is the 50th anniversary of the LGBT movement. That simply is not true.
MARK MY WORDS: Bringing our youth home
From Philadelphia Gay News - Last week, my phone rang and the voice on the other end very apprehensively said their name and then, "I'm the one who has been in a 'conversion-therapy' camp." Then, they began to cry. Here's how this saga began:
MARK MY WORDS: Of Iran, gay Pride and Rick Santorum
From Philadelphia Gay News: June will soon be upon us and when many of us think of June, we think of gay Pride.
History returns to Independence Hall, and in a patriotic and musical way
From Philadelphia Gay News: Something happened a few weeks ago that literally made me stop and take note of how far we have come in our struggle for equality.
LGBT history at its best
From Philadelphia Gay News: Next week a press conference will be held. It's not unusual to have a press conference to announce almost any new program, but this one represents something that the world, and our community, is just beginning to recognize: the history of the struggle for LGBT equality.
Loss of a pioneer
From Philadelphia Gay News: My friend Jerry Hoose died last week. You most likely don't know the name, but he affected your life; he certainly affected mine.
Calling out ageism
From Philadelphia Gay News: Last Sunday on one of those morning news talk shows, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was asked about Hillary Clinton's possible candidacy for president. He responded: "People want to look to the future, we don't want to go back in time."
Hollywood is lagging behind on LGBT issues
From Philadelphia Gay News: Hollywood awards season is upon us! This week we saw the Golden Globes and the release of the nominations for the Academy Awards, aka the Oscars. At both, several LGBT people were recognized and that s important, since a major part of the fight for equality is about visibility and being treated equal in all areas.
Mark Segal: The LGBT welcome mat
From Philadelphia Gay News: Pope Francis, thank you for your kind words about LGBT families and LGBT childre. Last week, His Holiness said, "The Catholic Church must help parents stand by their gay children."
Church synod LGBT slap in the face?
For the LGBT community to simply ignore what happened at the Vatican a couple of weeks ago when Pope Francis convened a synod on issues facing the Catholic Church would be a major mistake. Even those of us who are not Catholic are effected by a church that has an estimated 1.2 billion members worldwide. Here in the U.S. it's influence effects the way some elected officials vote and some Judges rule. And then their are the issues that effect our brother and sister believers and their families. We can not turn our backs on them.