What’s remarkable about this is that it’s not remarkable for this governor. Ed has been doing gay bar crawls since he first ran for office in the 1980s. And he’s done so in each of his elections and also in those where, like this one, he is not running. He’s a great believer in the LGBT community and its voting numbers. It’s served him well in his political career and he, in return, has supported this community.
Thanks to Ed and others in the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Democratic Party, our community is included in what is referred to as the Democratic Coalition. It’s the kind of recognition that I hope someday the Republican Party will give to its LGBT members.
And while we commend Gov. Ed on his outreach, we should be asking why more elected officials don’t do the same. Here in Philly, it’s routine. What about New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago? Philly is light years ahead. Maybe it took a governor who saw the future of civil rights back in the 1980s.
When Ed asked me to arrange that first bar tour some 30 years ago, it had never been done before and we wondered what the reaction would be. The LGBT community was, as expected, welcoming. Ed and his staff were delighted with the acceptance and then a TV crew showed up unexpectedly. Ed’s staff wanted to hustle him out of there, but instead Ed decided to speak on camera. That was a defining moment in Pennsylvania politics and civil rights. So if you think a gay pub crawl isn’t important, think again.
Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media, having just received the 2010 Columnist of the Year Award from the 2,000-member Suburban Newspapers of America. He can be reached at email@example.com