Segal, Mark. “And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality”, Akashic, OpenLens, 2015.
A Force For Good
It is quite rare to see an author get wonderful reviews from the gay press and the straight press as well as from some of the major voices in gay activism and literature. Mark Segal certainly does this. Segal has quite a reputation as the dean of American gay journalism over the past five decades. He was there for the Stonewall demonstrations in 1969 to founding the “Philadelphia Gay News” in 1975, and he has entered into TV and politics with a commitment as a tireless LGBT advocate. He is respected by his peers for pioneering the idea of local LGBT newspapers and is one of the founders and former president of both the National Gay Press Association and the National Gay Newspaper Guild. Segal was recently inducted into the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association’s Hall of Fame and was appointed a member of the Comcast/NBC Universal Joint Diversity Board, where he advises the on LGBT issues. He is also president of the dmhFund, though which he builds affordable LGBT-friendly housing for seniors.
This is his memoir and in it he describes his firsthand experience as a teen inside the Stonewall bar during the riots. We writes about his participation with the Gay Liberation Front, and his encounters with celebrities and stars like Elton John and Patti LaBelle. I have read about Segal in other places but nothing is like reading about it as he tells it.
He lets us know that during the early days of the LGBT movement that is was not always easy with the personality conflicts and the different personal agendas. There was infighting over strategies and objectives and many, many challenges. Some of you might remember (I was out of the country but I certainly heard about it) that on December 11, 1973, Mark Segal disrupted a live broadcast of the CBS Evening News when he sat on the desk directly between the camera and news anchor Walter Cronkite and yelled “Gays protest CBS prejudice!” He was taken down to the studio floor by the stagehands on live national television and wrestled this ending LGBT invisibility on television. This was just one of his victories and there were many more battles to fight back then. Segal made it his duty to show the nation who gay people are and that they are our sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers.
Because of Segal and others we have openly LGBT people working in the White House and throughout corporate America. He has helped make it possible for an entire community of gay world citizens to finding the voice that they need to become visible.
Mark Segal moved to New York at the beginning of the gay rights movement and his role in that movement, and his actions behind and in front of the scenes pushed our movement forward. Segal became a newspaper publisher of a major paper and a mover and shaker politically. Most of us will be able to identify with Segal’s story even though his was on a totally different level than most of us. We see how he was a man of determination who did not know fear. He is able to bring history and personal story together to tell the story of his life thus far and he knew how to work the system and did so to make our lives better.
He does tells us that we should never take anything for granted or become complacent about the rights we have. We owe Mark Segal a lot and the best way that we can repay him is to read his book and then hopefully find our place in the movement.