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

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.

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. 

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