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.


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? 

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!

Last Friday night, Jason and I were in the car going to do our weekly grocery shopping when I received the news. I looked at Jason and asked, “Is it me, or the hype around me?” He smiled and said, “A little of each” and asked me what I thought. My answer has never changed: I’ve always believed it’s passion and a good editor.

Heads up, LGBT America. Did you know that there is about to be a national Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, D.C., on June 11? Chances are you may not, since the people/group “organizing” it seem to have forgotten a simple rule when putting together a public demonstration: Invite the public and then communicate the facts so people will know the importance of the event, support its goals and know where, when and what to expect.

 

As I was standing in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, looking at the giant silhouette of Che Guevara, I smiled, recalling the Che Guevara Café I once visited in Beirut where I watched a male belly dancer as I was reporting on Lebanon’s first LGBT organization. It occurred to me that the relationship between the United States and the Middle East is easy to explain compared to the relationship our country has with Cuba, as well as Cuba’s position on LGBT issues.

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When you read this column, I should be in Havana, Cuba, writing about the changes in how Cuba deals with its LGBT community. I do so based on a similar report I did for LGBT media exactly 20 years ago, in 1997. And maybe the way I’m getting to Cuba this week may be a harbinger of what to expect. 

As we go to press on Wednesday evening, Human Rights Campaign is sending out alerts asking for money to help them fight the so-called “License to Discriminate” religious-freedom executive order that President Pence — excuse me, President Trump — is supposed to issue this week. This answers several questions that many have been asking about this White House. 

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.

Some headlines in Europe have yelled “Concentration camps for LGBT people,” or “100 gays rounded up, beaten and imprisoned” or “Kidnappings of LGBT people off the streets.”

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