by Mark Segal
(Mark Segal is the founder and publisher of Philadelphia Gay News. He is also the author of the memoir, “And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality.” The following column, published on December 29, 2003, appears here with permission.)
Due to current events, many of us have felt angry, frustrated and hopeless. So rather than look at the issues of the country and the world, I’d like to get personal.
The end of the year is a time for reflection and planning for the new year. Some people take stock of where they are and the ways they wish to enhance or change their life. For others, it’s a way to celebrate accomplishments or grieve a lost loved one. So with that, I’d like to use this space to do both.
While we lost some important voices in our community this year, their contributions will forever bring new visibility to our community. That is a way to add celebration to the grief you might feel. Celebrate those you loved by how they enriched you, your family and your community.
While the rest of the nation was wrestling with anti-trans and anti-drag legislation, our Philadelphia mayoral candidates all came out to City Hall to show their support for our drag and trans community. They appeared in a photoshoot to illustrate their solidarity, which was featured on the front page of this paper.
And while that same national backlash has gotten headlines, something was beginning to happen behind the curtain. More openly LGBTQ+ candidates across the country were elected than ever before in history. And those school boards taken over by Moms for Liberty — especially in Bucks County — were overturned in this past election.
We also elected Rue Landau, who will become the first openly LGBTQ+ member of Philadelphia’s City Council once she is sworn. Landau was elected resoundingly. And while other governors around the country were running from trans issues, our governor — Josh Shapiro — appointed Henry Sias, a trans man, to his administration.
My favorite personal story of the year is when after lobbying for various community members (and if you know me, you know I’m a bit aggressive when I believe someone has earned their due), one official finally gave in and said with a smile, “You know, you’re a pain in the ass.” That made me proud since I view that as being a happy warrior. So I added with a smile, “and you love it.” I now embrace the role of being pushy (a word I choose purposely here). But I use it knowing that there are now new leaders in our community who are aggressive in their own right to get things done. I’m proud of each and every one of those individuals who have bravely stepped forward.
I’m optimistic about the future, but I realize that optimism comes from fighting for that better future, which I have done my whole life. This year of all years is a time to fight, not moan about our victimhood. Fight for your community and fight for your country.