THE GAY LIBERATION FRONT, PUBLISHER
Mark Segal is a life-long gay activist who became a successful newspaper publisher. In 1969, Mark participated in the Stonewall Riots and, shortly after, joined the New York Gay Liberation Front, where he created its Gay Youth program. In 1972, after being thrown out of a dance competition for dancing with a male lover, Segal “zapped” the evening news broadcast of WPVI-TV. He did this again in 1973 when he interrupted Walter Cronkite’s CBS Evening News carrying a sign that read “Gays Protest CBS Prejudice” In 1976, he started The Philadelphia Gay News, which as of 2022 prints 25,000 copies weekly. Segal was recently inducted into the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association’s Hall of Fame. His column Mark my Works has been awarded by The National Newspaper Association, Suburban Newspaper Association, among others.
"I felt isolated from the very beginning. I lived in a housing project, and we were the only Jewish family there. Most people were Christian, and I heard a lot of derogatory terms. At five years old, I was asked why I killed Christ, so I got the point about anti-Semitism and not being wanted when I was very young. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, gay people were totally invisible. We didn't exist. The only time we were talked about or mentioned was when people whispered about us or when people in school might want to put someone down or beat them up or call them out as they walked around in public. We were to be ignored and left alone in isolation. We had to learn very quickly that we should just keep quiet. I stayed quiet at first, but I knew who I was even though I didn't understand. I never thought there was anything wrong with me. It was like with the Vietnam war, I knew society had this war, but I didn't know why.
During this time, the whole idea of the word homosexual was to limit us to just sex acts. Gay people are not just sex acts. We have a whole lifestyle which includes some of us going to church, synagogue, or mosque, having relationships, working—the word homosexual to me always meant just the sex act. I didn't want people to think of me in that manner. You could clearly see that this was how people thought of us until we started fighting for our rights. Up until that point, we were always molesting children. Oh, look how they act in San Francisco, how much they show off their sexuality in public—this really brought it home to me. It has been the focal point throughout my life to make sure that the rest of the world doesn't think of us only in those terms. That's why I self-identify as a gay man. I would never speak for LBT, a lesbian or gay woman or trans, or whichever identity someone wishes to take that is up to each individual to decide on their identity.
In the Gay Liberation Front, we focused on self-identity rather than letting society identify us—community. I honestly believe that the Gay Liberation Front created the LGBTQ community. We debated ideas, and we discussed our needs. Our idea of creating a community was to help the most disenfranchised people among us. That's why we had a Gay Youth Caucus, STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), and created the first gay community center. Think about it. There were only a few places where LGBT people could meet before we created social events and places outside of bars. Even the bars back then were illegal."