Furor Over Int’l AIDS Confab Set for US

 It is every bit as absurd as it sounds. The International AIDS Society (IAS) plans to hold their global AIDS 2020 conference in San Francisco – an insanely expensive and privileged city located in a country that has become dangerously inhospitable to the very populations the IAS claims to serve. Thank goodness for a growing army of activists and organizations (under the banner of #AIDS2020forAll) who are demanding that the IAS remove the conference from the US. Maybe this all looks like inside baseball to you, a ruckus between factions, but I am here to tell you that this has everything to do with our […]

Trump, the Reality Edition

So how bad is it? Let’s take a look at what he’s done in almost two years in office. Tariffs: Trump’s favorite products – gas and oil – are suffering. The American Petroleum Institute stated last week that Trump’s tariffs will end our oil and gas exports. Raw-steel materials or aluminum imported from China are at a 20% higher cost for manufacturers in the US. Think about those cars and washing machines that Trump likes to brag about. Anyone own a Harley Davidson? They cost 20% more and sell for less, which translates to a loss of jobs at these […]

LGBT Commission Makes History – Again

History is repeating itself 42 years later. That’s where my thoughts were as Jason and I were on Amtrak on our way to a reception at the Pennsylvania’s governor’s residence this past Monday. Many of you often remark how joyous I am, and this week proved your point. How else to react to witnessing something that you envisioned 42 years ago once again being used to empower our community? Thanks to Gov. Tom Wolf, I had the honor to join him as he made history – or should I say, repeated history? It is a history I took part in […]

The Facts of LGBT Discrimination

This week, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney won a major court case that will most likely make its way to the US Supreme Court and affects our community more than the super-hyped wedding-cake case. And guess what? Almost no one noticed the significance of this major turn of events, but with much higher stakes, not only for you, but especially for religious organizations. Why does it loom large, with billions in tax dollars? Yes, we’ve reached a new stage of our struggle, where discrimination against LGBT people could cost billions – that’s billions, with a B – of dollars to those […]

The Best Gay American History Character Ever!

Readers here know my passion for LGBT history and my almost-decade-long research and writing on my favorite gay historical character – and I do believe he was a character. He is Baron Friedrich von Steuben. And there’s a longer version of his name, but that will do. It took years, but the research many of us have done is finally being acknowledged by most reputable historians, The Museum of the American Revolution and the Steuben Society of America itself, that von Steuben was a gay man. That’s very important – maybe the most important LGBT American-history fact there is. Let […]

Talk is Not Cheap

Ah, summertime – the living is easy. We toss our cares to the wind, head for a little R&R and, for many, that great summer vacation. So, it should be a time to relax, lay back, and enjoy the sunshine. But wait, we’re five months from an election. Here’s where I can envision you saying, “Mark, why are you bringing this up now?” Here’s the point: We can’t rest until we do something to put a check on the madness that is Donald Trump, and the harm already done to this country in just 18 months. At this point you’re […]

Finding Common Ground in LGBT Health Centers

The LGBT medical clinic in Philadelphia, Mazzoni Center, which serves more than 35,000 clients, announced that the board had appointed a new CEO. Lydia Gonzalez Scirarrino, it turns out, is not LGBT, and that seemed to distress some people in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. How could a non-LGBT person head an organization that has a majority of its clients from the LGBT community? There seems to be a way to find common ground on this issue, and it’s possible that the answer is already out there. Take Washington, DC, as an example. The LGBT community clinic […]

It’s Official: I’m History

Just saying that I am humbled is not enough: It is an honor of a lifetime. By the title of this column, I’m not talking about my age, but something that I’m still processing. There have been many honors over the last few years, but this is something that happens to few Americans, and I never expected it to happen to me. My personal papers of the last 50 years will soon be alongside people like Benjamin Franklin, George Washington LGBT pioneer Frank Kameny and even Judy Garland’s ruby-red slippers. It seems strange to say, but I’ve been asked by […]

When Political Connections Allow Discrimination…

For our family at Philadelphia Gay News, this has been what you might call a mixed couple of weeks. It started with the death of one of our extended family members, Mike Petty, the husband of Don Pignolet, who has been with this paper since its beginning. Naturally our hearts and first concerns were with Don. It also gave us each a time to reflect. As we saw the love they shared, we were able to look into our own relationships and see joy. Don, the trooper he has always been, has kept up his PGN schedule. It has been […]

Visiting Future Leaders Ask: How Did We Get This Far?

This week I had a great honor. While we in the US are concerned with the state of our struggle for equality and worry each day how the Trump administration wants to dismantle the gains we’ve made, I had the opportunity to meet this week as part of a program from the US State Department called the International Visitor Leadership Program. Seventeen future leaders from central and South America visit the United States, and what the program does is try to show young future leaders of various countries how the US political system operates. Part of that is community involvement, […]