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

We’re in a time of change, and most of that is frustrating, but at times you see the glimmer of success from what this community has had to endure and build upon, especially when you see it through someone else’s eyes.

Last Sunday, I had the honor to speak at the Society of Professional Journalists’ regional conference in Philadelphia. What a great time to be gathering with fellow journalists. Like me, many at that conference believe we’re in a golden age of journalism, especially with the #MeToo movement, the lack of corporate-bias training and, of course, the train wreck that is the Trump administration.  

On a side note, here’s an eye-opener on that subject: YouTube the statement that Stormy Daniels gave outside the Manhattan federal court last week. After watching it, I never thought I’d utter such a phrase: The porn star is more respectable than the president of the United States.  

Back to SPJ: The organization has a special place in my heart, since it was among the first mainstream journalism organizations to appreciate the work of LGBT media. My talk was entitled “Covering LGBT Issues: From Stonewall to Trump.” I enjoyed the questions from the participants, but what was a joy was when members of SPJ’s leadership began to talk about the first few times that PGN won awards from them.

SPJ leaders described how some of their members were shocked to see an award going to an LGBT newspaper, or just in shock to hear the word “gay.” It was so heartfelt for me to witness the pride they felt for just accepting us as fellow professional journalists, the same as them. It was a long way from the days we had to fight simply to join such organizations. And if you believe it was just us in LGBT media, no, it was out LGBT doctors, lawyers, those in elected or appointed positions and corporate leaders. Yes, my young readers, there was a time when the majority of our community had to fight to simply be out. So many of us take a moment of joy when we see our battle is winning out. On Sunday, I got to meet student journalists, who can be out and accepted in their profession. With all the frustration around us, that’s a success.

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

This week I had a great honor. While we in the United States are concerned with the state of our struggle for equality, and worry each day how the Trump administration wants to dismantle the gains we’ve made, I had the opportunity to meet this week as part of a program from the U.S. State Department called the International Visitor Leadership Program. Seventeen future leaders from central and South America visit the United States, and what the program does is try to show young future leaders of various countries how the U.S. political system operates. Part of that is community involvement, including the LGBT community. The fact that this is still being done under Trump makes me wonder how long before Mike Pence pounces on it.

The program is over 40 years old, but in recent years, they’ve tried to show progressive movements in the U.S. to the visiting delegates, and many of them were progressive themselves. 

There were a few who identified as gay or lesbian, and one who was trans. 

Sitting in an office that publishes an LGBT newspaper once a week and has a full staff amazed them. When I told them this is true in most major America cities, they were more than surprised. 

The 17 included representatives of Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Guatemala. They all had, it seemed, one question: How did the LGBT community get this far to what they saw as acceptance?

I tried to explain that it took about 50 years and AIDS to organize us to where we are today, then explained that we feel there is still much work to do in our very own community. Racism, transphobia, homeless youth and elder-housing issues are among them. 

I asked about the situations in their countries, and my heart sank. One by one, they talked about persecution and the need to remain in the closet in most of their homes. Most were happy to have a gay-pride day once a year.  One told how a gay priest in Santo Domingo had disappeared after coming out. The one thing that most had was their Latino heritage, and I suggested the issue of machismo. Others stated the issues were with the indiginous populations, whom many of them represented, and religion. 

In the end I found myself being a cheerleader and explaining what it was like in the U.S. in the 1950-’60s, with many similarities to where they are today. And I explained that in 1969 we decided that it was time to define ourselves and to Come Out, and that is when the change began. Their main issue seemed to be the Catholic Church, so I made clear that each time the church tries to shout morals at you, explain, no, accuse them of being the largest pedophile organization in the world with no right to speak of morals.

They wanted hope… I then explained they were the hope, and they are.

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, the LGBT medical clinic in Philadelphia, Mazzoni Center, which serves more than 35,000 clients, announced that the board had appointed a new CEO. Lydia Gonzalez Scirarrino, it turns out, is not LGBT, and that seemed to distress some people in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. How could a non-LGBT person head an organization that has a majority of its clients from the LGBT community?

There seems to be a way to find common ground on this issue, and it’s possible that the answer is already out there. Take Washington, D.C., as an example. The LGBT community clinic there, Whitman-Walker Health, has been run by an LGBT ally for years. In other words, a straight white male. And guess what? There are many other non-LGBT people across the country running organizations that serve mainly LGBT people, especially among health and HIV/AIDS organizations, but not as many in activist, equality or LGBT political organizations.

There are many ways to look at this: Are these professional heads of nonprofits taking the job just for a good payday? Are they people who have had a calling on our issues? Does their life history add something to our struggle towards equality and diversity? Does it bring us closer to the fight for social justice in all areas of this divided nation? And the real question in a truly fair world should be: Are they the most qualified person for the position?

Here’s one way to look at it from another community’s perspective: Are there any non-African-Americans running African-American organizations? Recall Rachel Dolezal, who lived as a black woman and headed her local NAACP. It caused a national controversy when it was discovered she was white — a discussion that still goes on in that community today. She finally resigned. Would that be considered discrimination? The same goes for Latino, Jewish and Catholic community organizations. Haven’t done the research on that, but somehow I have a feeling that what happened to Ms. Dolezal is the norm. There is another factor, however, which is that she concealed her background while running a rights organization that mostly was volunteer-driven, not a health center with thousands of clients with medical needs.

And one last thought: It also might be as simple as geography. In a place where the LGBT community is still struggling and has few such organizations, there might in fact be a need for an LGBT executive director, since those areas need good LGBT spokespeople and role models. 

The answer is out there, but only if we have a civil discussion. Maybe our community can lead the way on an issue that many communities are also facing.

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

     Is Vice President Mike Pence a closeted, deep-in-self-hate raging homo? Is that self-hate so intolerable for him that he’s become the commander in chief at the White House in pushing the most homophobic agenda since McCarthy’s un-American hearings in the 1950s and the George W. Bush anti gay-marriage reelection bid? 

That blue wave that every political pundit and journalist keeps telling us is almost a sure thing in November? For those of you not politically aware of that term, it means a big Democrat win in the midterms. It’s so big that it could have the Democrats taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives and a slimmer chance of the U.S. Senate.

Former City Councilman Bill Green announced that he’d be running for Congress against incumbent Congressman Brendon Boyle, a major LGBT ally. I wish I had a way to describe how this makes me feel.

She and I had a special bond. We both grew up knowing poverty. We both felt the sting of discrimination. We also knew the feeling of rejection when we pursued a path that was not generally accepted.

The current presidential administration does not understand spousal abuse or sexual harassment. Most are saying that the person at fault stops at the door of the chief of staff but, no, it stops in the Oval Office at the desk of President Donald Trump.

Everyone in Philadelphia is as proud as peacocks with the Eagles’ win in the Super Bowl. Even President Donald Trump posted a congratulatory tweet. And, as is tradition, the president usually invites the winning team to the White House to officially offer his congratulations.

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