Mark My Words

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at https://twitter.com/PhilaGayNews.


I’ve already started what I’m calling my “Stonewall 50 Tour,” which includes more than 20 speaking gigs, interviews, exhibit openings, parades and conferences. It culminates on June 30, when I share the honor of being Grand Marshal of New York’s World Pride/Stonewall 50 parade with my fellow sisters and brothers of Gay Liberation Front New York 1969-71. I want to share this journey with you; so, here are a few of the things that have happened thus far.

  I asked this question on my personal Facebook page, and the results were interesting. An overwhelming number of people said that Rep. Brian Sims should not resign, and most responses came from men.

The reason for the question is due to the outrage Sims caused, which had some at Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice women and men calling for his resignation. Sims had an emotional outburst against, as he called her, “an old white woman” who was protesting outside of Planned Parenthood. He recorded the event and then boastfully posted it on social media.  In another video, he asked his viewers to provide the addresses of two teenage girls who were protesting with their mother — the reward: $100.

Planned Parenthood clinics around the country are often protested and picketed by religious right wing anti-abortion proponents.  Usually these people march around chanting or praying, at times trying to persuade the women entering to save what they believe to be a life: the fetus.  This happens literally thousands of times around the country each month without incident.  Planned Parenthood has taken an approach to ignore these pickets and at the same time support those using the clinics’ services by providing escorts to those who enter.

     Sims, who yelled at one protester while she walked and prayed and jokingly demanded personal information of teenage women, likely thought he was standing up for Planned Parenthood and the people they serve.

    The world did not see it that way.  The image the world saw was ugly — an angry, privileged man yelling at women, one of whom was praying while he waved his finger, followed her around continually and called her an “old white woman.” For whatever his reasons, he gave the religious right the spark they needed to embolden their followers to spread their hate. It has further added to the division in this country. Last Friday, hundreds of anti-abortion protesters rallied at the very clinic from the video. How much more difficult must it have been for women entering the clinic that day?

This paper has endorsed Brian in all of his elections, but in this instance he is dangerously wrong. Not his views, but his actions and behavior. Since he takes every opportunity he can to say that he represents this community, he embarrasses us all. 

We of the LGBT community should be asking more from those who represent us. We have to ask the question, was this just a publicity stunt gone wrong?   Brian is no longer the only LGBT-elected or -appointed public official. We are lucky to have younger leaders like Malcolm Kenyatta and Amber Hikes, and people like Deja Alvarez, Henry Sias, Tiffany Palmer, Dan Anders and many others.

In the past, some members of our community put Brian on a pedestal. Those on pedestals are likely to fall, and this time he certainly did. Can he dust himself off and rise again?  One former union leader, pro-choice Democratic woman commentator stated: “I hope that an old white women runs against him in the primary… and I’ll vote for her.”

Should he resign? That’s a decision for him, not for you and me. We can only express our opinions.  I’m sure someone in the district will take that commentator’s advice and run against him in the next primary, and at that point we’ll decide if he deserves another chance and an endorsement.  In other words: he gets no more free passes. 

I had a smile last week. Someone tried to use my words to champion a project without my knowledge, and without even knowing the full story.  Here’s the issue and how two community organizations dealt with it by saying, simply: not on our property.

Former Sen. Arlen Specter was a man I worked with at times. I’ve written about him fondly in this column and in my book.

Last week my husband said, “Appreciate the privilege.” He was responding to my complaints regarding the hectic schedule I have due to being named one of the grand marshals of the upcoming World Pride Parade that celebrates Stonewall 50.

Representatives from 19 countries visited the office of the Philadelphia Gay News to see how a newspaper for the LGBT community operated in the Unites States. Among these questions: What rules do we follow and do we use the ethics of the mainstream media? More importantly to them: How is a gay newspaper able to prosper in a country that was once so oppressive to the LGBT population?

Last Sunday as I sat on my couch watching TV, I found myself in tears. A man I have never met, a very out gay man, was live on CNN announcing that he was officially running for President of the United States. It was an emotional moment that felt like it had, in some way, encapsulated my entire life.

That man’s name is Pete Buttigieg, and he is the mayor of South Bend, Ind.

Only 48 hours earlier, it was announced in New York that my brother and sisters and I — members of Gay Liberation Front 1969–71 — will be Grand Marshals of the 2019 Stonewall 50 and World Pride LGBTQIA+ Pride March.

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. 

After a big week on the issue of our time — the #MeToo movement — Joe Biden is still a 7-percent favorite among Democrats to be the nominee. This fact might provide answers for other Democratic candidates.

Change is good — at least that’s what the expression is. At times it is, and other times it’s not. But when you are dealing with people, it’s also sometimes sad. We’re having that issue here at PGN. 

Scott Drake, our longtime photographer/art director at PGN, is leaving to follow a dream. He purchased a bed-and-breakfast in New Hope and intends to be an innkeeper with his partner Micheal. Scott’s the guy at PGN who lays out the print publication each week. In that capacity, he evaluates space and decides where the ads go, and figures out how much space remains and what copy will fit where. It’s almost a science. But he’s done it for so long, he can almost do it in his sleep.

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