Over the last few years many of you have congratulated me for various awards of recognition. And I sincerely appreciate these sentiments, but it has been a very emotional time taking all of this in. Let me try to explain.
In the last few years this newspaper, my pride and joy, has been named the best weekly in the state (of all weeklies) by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA), an organization that wouldn’t allow us membership when we began simply because we served the LGBT community. This year the same thing happened with the National Newspaper Association (NNA). Then PNA awarded me its Ben Franklin Award, one of its highest honors for my 43 years work in journalism. They at one time wanted nothing to do with me. Earlier this year Gov. Wolf recreated a statewide commission for LGBT issues. It was copied by the commission I requested from Gov. Shapp in 1973, and at that time others in our community took credit for it, but recently the original letter to the governor with its outline was discovered in the Pennsylvanian archives. Last month I celebrated the 45th anniversary of my disruption of The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, and the month before that, the disruption of the Today Show with a young Barbara Walters. Both ended this community’s invisibility on network TV, and GLAAD, our nation’s national media organization, has NEVER recognized those actions. This January we’ll celebrate the opening of The John C. Anderson LGBT Senior Apartments. And two weeks ago I was award by PENN Medicine for my early work on HIV/AIDS.
Last May I became a Smithsonian fellow, meaning that the Smithsonian Institute of American History in Washington D.C. requested that my personal papers and artifacts from my almost 50 years in activism would become part of American history.
All of that is a lot to take in. And for someone who didn’t look back as I moved from one project to another … I’m not sure what to make of it. But I’m beginning to get it, just continue to move forward and celebrate the people you worked with to achieve those benchmarks for our community.
But there is one achievement that stands out among all others: I’m a very happily married man, something that I, a man with, let’s face it, a lot of vision, could never have expected in my lifetime back in 1969 as a member of the Gay Liberation Front … none of us could. A happily married man may be the best achievement, at least for me.
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.