These last few years have been incredible for us as a community, and for me personally. My just-released memoir, “And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality,” is my view of my almost-50 years of activism. I had no expectations for it once it published, but surprisingly for me it’s now a best-seller on numerous online lists.

If you haven’t noticed, the cover of the book is very different than most other books, especially other memoirs and autobiographies. It’s a picture of a man being roughed up, arrested and being led into a police van for the infamous nickel ride.mark-segal

I choose that picture simply because I hoped it would show LGBT youth what many of us had to do to get our community to the point we’re at today. Our history is important.

That picture was taken in 1972, and it details what happened when I attempted to handcuff myself to the Liberty Bell.

Although that may seem strange to many, when I look back at my LGBT activism, it seems normal to me. We early LGBT activists didn’t get a salary — we were poor — so I lived with my parents, who were more than supportive. Often in the morning I’d say to my mom as I left the house: “Mom, don’t worry but I’ll most likely be arrested today.” She not only understood, but she supported what we were doing.

Over the years from creating Gay Youth in New York in 1969 to becoming publisher of Philadelphia Gay News, I’ve gone from one project to another with little opportunity to look back.

I’m finally having that opportunity and it’s an emotional one, which I’m enjoying sharing with you. If you’re asking for the message of this column, here it is: From that kid being arrested came a man who was invited by the president of the United States to dance at the White House with the man he loves.

Not bad for a penniless activist.


Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at PhilaGayNews. His memoir AND THEN I DANCED is available online and at your favorite bookstore.



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