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 or Twitter at

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.

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. 

People often ask me how many days the Stonewall riots endured, since most people know it wasn’t just one night. My answer is that it was 365 days.

There’s one in every city — that person who, once he enters the room, makes us all feel a sense of togetherness no matter what the issues and turmoil in the LGBT community.

In Philadelphia, that person was Donald Carter.

You might have seen him on the HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Even his introduction on the show brought smiles to the faces of those who knew him. He would say with a twinkle in his eye, “I’m black. I’m gay. And I’m a Republican.”

Here’s the bottom line: The Attic Youth Center is about the well-being and safety of LGBT youth.

Last week, there were allegations regarding the center. And, at this point, that’s what they are – allegations. With any such reports, we need to look at where those allegations came from and question the evidence, as well as the credibility and motives of the accuser. And if those allegations are real, what is The Attic doing to correct the situation? You then weigh that against the reputation and record of those named, and ask if any reports of wrongdoing were ever filed.

America is more polarized now than it has been at almost any time in our history. That is where this column begins — with those polar ends.

To many Americans, Trump is clearly not seen as a good president (an average of the many polls that are out there indicates about 52 percent disapprove of the job he’s doing). He fares better with his base. With those voters, his highest rate of disapproval was 46 percent. But, to many of those in that 46 percent, Trump can do no wrong.

Last week, a strange announcement came from the Trump administration. A global campaign, to be led by out U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, was about to begin, and would take on countries that criminalize homosexuality.

In the first media accounts (NBC News broke the story), it was reported that the campaign was instituted primarily to address the killing last year in Iran of a man who was hanged for being gay.

Jussie Smollett of the TV show “Empire” has recently been in the media and it’s not a pretty story.

The short of it: One night in Chicago he claimed that he was the victim of a hate crime. He said assailants poured bleach on him, roughed him up and hung a rope around his neck all the time yelling racism and homophobic slurs. The Chicago police questioned two men, who are brothers, as possible suspects in the incident. Turns out the men knew Smollett and have worked on “Empire.”

Once upon a time, the LGBT community had no LGBT choices in politics, only LGBT-friendly candidates, who weren’t LGBT themselves, to endorse.

And, once upon a time, there were no LGBT candidates for any elected political office in the land. In 1972, Nancy Wechsler and Jerry DeGrieck were the first LGBT people to be elected to any office in the United States in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Then, visionary organizations such as The Victory Fund and similar groups locally began to groom and support LGBT candidates. Today around the country, we have many LGBT people in almost every type of elected office imaginable.

The Human Rights Campaign must learn to actually do something other than issue press releases announcing its positions on various federal judicial nominations. The group needs to do what this community used to do: Take action. Or, at the very least, show a plan.

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