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

The last couple weeks have saddened those of us who love the freedoms this country offers and who have tried over the last few decades to make those freedoms inclusive — but there is a silver lining. Masses of people are taking up this cause of resistance and are willing to go out and show their support to stop any incursions to democracy.

And they almost have it right. 

Any presidency is ranked by the prosperity it brings to the country, which allows the living standard of its citizens to improve. That is the promise that Donald Trump and almost all politicians run on: improving life for the American middle class.

When corporations discriminate or hold positions that will hurt employees or the environment, at times a boycott is called for. Well, it seems that Trump’s Muslim travel ban has in itself handed us the way to force his hand. 

While recent demonstrations have given us hope, we must now use future demonstrations to bring change. Simply put, they must be targeted. Targeted nonviolent protests sometimes cause inconvenience, but that inconvenience is what causes the change. Luckily those who demonstrated last week got it right: airports. 

Airports have become a major economic hub of this nation. Here’s what the federal government, through the Federal Aviation Administration, states on the subject:

“Aviation-related manufacturing output for the entire United States increased 15.5 percent in real terms between 2009 and 2012, from $217.2 billion to $250.9 billion.”

That was in 2012, and just domestic. Bring it up to date and add in the international economic impact and the numbers are staggering. This from the JFK Airport’s own report:

“Employment and economic impact: About 37,000 people are employed at JFK. The airport contributes about $37.3 billion in economic activity to the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region, generating about 256,000 total jobs and $13.4 billion in annual wages and salaries.”

This is only a possible suggestion from an old activist …

Mark Segal is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His recently published memoir, “And Then I Danced,” is available on, Barnes & Noble or at your favorite bookseller.

Last night I watched the HBO documentary on the relationship between Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fisher, best known for her role as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” saga. The film, “Bright Lights,” is a wonderful trip through Hollywood and sort of a “Grey Gardens Goes Hollywood.” The living conditions, like in “Grey Gardens,” are unique but it’s the conditions of both the main characters and those they touch that brings you to the point where you’re asking yourself, "What world are these delightful people living in?" 

There is no other U.S. president who can stand even close to the legacy of President Barack Obama on LGBT issues. In fact, you could stack all the LGBT gains accumulated from every president before Obama together and they wouldn’t come close to those made during his administration. No one column could simply list all his achievements on behalf of the LGBT community but there is one that most of our community, seems to be blind to: Thanks to President Obama, it became cool to support LGBT equality.

This week, you witnessed what in all reality is the only lifeline you’ll have during a Trump presidency. And it’s the one many of you have been griping about for some time, with some reason. Let’s take a walk down Trump memory lane. 

We’ve reach that time of year when we look back, take stock of the year and begin to think about what will be in the New Year. This year, that is somewhat clouded and overshadowed — as is everything at this point — by the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America. 


OK, enough moaning over the election already. It’s the holiday season and nothing will really change for another few weeks, so let’s take this last Trump-less holiday season to do what has become the custom: celebrate our friends, family and those who give their time each year to make our young community a better place in which to live. There will be plenty of time to not moan but to take action in just a few weeks.

1. Trump is President-elect. If that angers or frightens you, don’t get upset, get involved.

2. What are the signs we in the LGBT community should be looking for? Trump has already made the statement that marriage equality is already the law of the land (in a “60 Minutes” interview last Sunday). But how about the Equality Act so that members of our community are not discriminated against? The reality is that, unless the Republican Congress decides it’s on their list, it will die — unless that organization I mentioned above begins to concentrate on those Republicans.

What about all those executive orders that President Obama signed to give our community what relief he could without the Equality Act? The President-elect had promised during the campaign to undo all of Obama’s EOs on the first day. Does he actually do that, or do he and his staff understand that some of the orders have value? The same holds true for department directives issued under the Obama administration. This is where whom he appoints affects all of us. 

Will there be any LGBT appointments to high-level positions in a Trump administration? Or are we to be invisible again in government? And what about the small things like Pride? Will there be an LGBT Pride reception in June in the White House? That might sound silly, but I must admit as one who has been fighting against our community’s invisibility for almost 50 years now and who has been at a number of those receptions, I almost felt like we were no longer invisible, as we were before our struggle gained momentum after Stonewall. Which brings me to:

3. The other day I went to pick up my lunch from a place I often visit and where I know the staff well. When I arrived, a staffer said to me: “Last week [referring to the Trump election], I felt really sad for myself and my family. That’s nothing compared to what your community must feel.” The words just flowed out of my mouth: “Thank you, but we’ve been here before and we know how to fight back if necessary. We were here and fought back during Nixon, Reagan and Bush. We’re stronger now and more organized.”

Which led me to understand why I and I’m guessing all those in our community over 50 years of age and older look at this a little differently. We remember when we were invisible, we remember feeling helpless. We then organized, and we did it well. Powered with the new openness and visibility and more importantly the radicalization brought by Gay Liberation Front, the president no longer had our silence. Most important of these was Reagan, who during the early days of HIV/AIDS felt that sting of ACT UP and the organized pressure of newly formed organizations to sustain that battle.

And that is the answer: Get involved. If this shock creates one thing, it might very well end the apathy of our community and the realization that our struggle is not simply having cocktail parties and chatting with office holders. It’s doing what this community did well, but no longer does: Getting in their faces and not allowing them to forget us. That is the lesson of ending invisibility.

We are an incredible community. Have trust in each other, and get involved. 

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