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

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.

I want to share a success story with you, which started in the pages of this very newspaper. Once upon a time, I wrote a column with the headline, “The Pie in the Sky Project.” It was about a project on the drawing board. It would create affordable housing for members of our LGBT senior community, to be located in their own community. Most people thought it was preposterous — an impossibility. Some people even laughed. Still, others didn’t understand the need. 

Coming out is personal to each of us, so is how we recognize and understand our oppression. Each of us has a moment that hits us in the face and says this is why I feel the way I do about how I’ve been treated by my family and community. I wrote about just that in my memoir “And Then I Danced, Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality.” For me it was at Stonewall and here’s how I put it.

Here’s an issue this paper has not dived into deeply enough that has caused neighborhoods in this city and others to reexamine a successful program from the AIDS epidemic that might have seen its time pass. Safe injection sites.

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.

Jason and I have a little French bulldog named Zola. She just had her 1st birthday. And, as should be expected, Jason and I are proud papas. She’s a lovable puppy full of playful energy. 

There’s “cis gender man” and the ever popular “cis gender woman,” not to be confused by “cis het.” There’s also “trans man” and “trans woman.”  Then there’s “fluid,” “gender queer,” “pan-sexual,” “non binary”… you get the idea. There are even more, but I literally can’t put them all here since it actually would go beyond my word count for this column space. 

Last week for World AIDS Day, Penn Medicine honored me with its Red Ribbon Pioneer Award. Truth is, it really hadn’t dawned on me, why me?  When notified about it a month prior and asked if I’d accept, it wasn’t an issue why. After all, it’s Penn Medicine Center for AIDS Research — one of the premier centers in the world for HIV/AIDS research.  So it wasn’t the institution, but rather if I was deserving of the recognition since most of my activity on the issue was in the past. Penn is in the current battle.

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