I’ve often shared emails I receive with you, and one that came in last week remarkably represents how far we have traveled on that road to LGBT equality (yes, that was a plug for my book!). But this is by far one of the most endearing emails I’ve received.

It goes:

Dear Mr. Segal,

Thank you for opening this message, first of all. It is a great honor to be able to send you an email, especially since I’ve been looking for your email address for a few days now.mark-segal

My name is [we’ll leave that out], and I’m a sixth grader from Wichita, Kansas. For our personal project in school, we have to participate in this year’s National History Day. This year’s theme is Exploration, Encounter and Exchange, so I decided to do my project on the Stonewall Riots, being queer myself.

Our language-arts teacher (who is supervising us as we do it) says that if we can get an interview or two, that would be great, which is why I’m here. Mr. Segal, you are one of the most famous participants of Stonewall and, frankly, you’re the only one whose email I could find — sort of — and who isn’t dead. So, I’m hoping you could answer some questions I have about the riots.

I understand if you can’t get back to me, whether it be soon or ever, as you are a very busy man. Thank you for your consideration — I’m almost certain you might consider this, at least — and time. :)

How could I not answer that? (Especially since I’m not dead … I love that line!) But there are two historical points to this email that many might not get.

If you’re a regular reader of this column or read my book (another plug), you’ll note that Tony Russomanno and I were the first LGBT activists to ever speak at a high school. We did so as members of Gay Youth New York in 1970. At the time, we knew that we could possibly be arrested or might even face violence. But the engagement was great and we even got a story in the Spider Press, the school newspaper. The headline read: “Gay activists say they are not neurotic.”

Almost 50 years later, I’m amazed that a sixth-grader would not only want to write a paper on LGBT history, but that his school approved it and that he can communicate without fear of any retribution.

My response to him was a simple, “I’d be honored.”


 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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