Philly’s Mark Segal inducted into Hall of Fame
More than 350 journalists are expected to attend “Boston Uncommon”, the annual National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) convention and LGBT Media Summit, being held in Boston this weekend.
The four-day assembly kicks off with the LGBT Media Summit on August 22, followed by two full days of programming with more than 40 workshops designed to address the needs of journalists and those in the communication industry. The convention will also include Connect - the NLGJA Student Journalism Project, the Women’s Networking Dinner, NLGJA’s Excellence in Journalism Awards and numerous other learning and networking opportunities for members.
The 2013 inductees into the LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame are the late Bob Ross and Mark Segal.
The LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame was established in 2005, recognizing seven journalists for their commitment, courage and dedication to LGBT issues in the media. Since then, NLGJA has honored a total of 23 journalists in the LGBT community. This year, the agency honors two more exceptionally talented leaders: Bob Ross, founder of the Bay Area Reporter, and Mark Segal, founder of the Philadelphia Gay News.
“We are thrilled to be inducting two pioneers of the LGBT press in the NLGJA Hall of Fame” said Jen Christensen, NLGJA president. “These two men created two of our most well-respected and enduring LGBT publications in the country and also bravely showed mainstream publications how to give our community the thoughtful respect and coverage it deserved at a time when only stereotypes and shallow reporting were the norm.”
Bob Ross (1934-2003), along with Paul Bentley, founded San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter on April 1, 1971. Bentley sold his interest in 1975. Ross set the highest professional standards for the newspaper and, by 1979, Mayor Dianne Feinstein was asking Ross and San Francisco Sentinel publisher Charles Lee Morris to investigate the city police department’s response to riots following the sentencing of Dan White for the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and openly gay Supervisor Harvey Milk. One of Ross’s most trying times was how to respond to the AIDS crisis beginning in the early 1980s: He decided in 1983 to extensively cover the story. That year, BAR reported that 40 percent of all persons with AIDS were members of minority groups, demolishing the idea of AIDS as a gay white disease.
In 1984, as tensions emerged between health concerns and preserving a culture of sexual freedom (the latter supported by his editor, Paul Lorch), Ross sided with health regulations. Lorch left the newspaper. Today, BAR is one of the two oldest weekly LGBT newspapers in the United States, with a circulation of about 29,000. From 1985 until 1998, Ross also published 20 issues of Gay Comix. When Ross died in 2003 of diabetes complications, he left an estate of more than $11 million in addition to the Bay Area Reporter itself. Before his death, Ross established the Bob Ross Foundation to give money to a wide variety of Bay Area causes, ranging from AIDS organizations to the San Francisco Ballet. Earlier this year, it was estimated that the foundation will give away all of its money by 2023, including proceeds from a legal requirement that it sell at least 80 percent of the Bay Area Reporter by 2016.
Mark Allan Segal, born in 1953, founded Philadelphia Gay News as a monthly in 1976, after being inspired by Frank Kameny when they met in 1970. Segal has been publisher of the now-weekly newspaper ever since. Today, PGN, as it’s often known, is one of the two oldest LGBT weekly publications in the United States, and the largest on the East Coast, with a weekly circulation of about 50,000. Before Segal started PGN, however, he was a gay activist. In 1972, after being thrown out of a dance competition for dancing with his male partner, Segal crashed the evening news broadcast of WPVI-TV, in what became known as a “zap.” By 1973, Segal, along with Harry Langhorne, calling themselves Gay Raiders, had zapped “The Tonight Show,” “Today,” “The Mike Douglas Show” and then the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite,” that time holding a sign saying “Gays Protests CBS Prejudice.” Starting at Segal’s April 1974 trial for zapping Cronkite, the CBS anchor asked Segal for details on the gay community’s media complaints. The “CBS Evening News” substantially increased its coverage of gay news and Cronkite became a supporter of gay rights.
In 1975, Segal went on a hunger strike and a “sit-in” at the Philadelphia City Council to call attention to the need for a gay-rights ordinance. In 1976, the PGN used Pennsylvania Department of Justice memos to show that state police were entrapping gay men seeking sex. In the late 1970s, PGN was publicizing how legislators voted on laws that concerned the gay community. By 1981, PGN published a series about drug and alcohol abuse within the gay community, and was mainstream enough to boast about its straight readership. In 1993, Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best of Philadelphia” award for “Clout” was given to Segal. Starting in 2004, Segal has been elected and re-elected as president of the National Gay Newspaper Guild. After numerous awards and accomplishments over more than 40 years, Segal is most proud, however, to still be called a “gay activist.”