The worse break of my life, literally. Last Saturday, we had a new air-conditioning unit installed on the office rooftop. It was amazing to watch the crane lift the unit four stories. After the installation, I was going to look over the work, but on the way up, about halfway up the ladder, I lost my grip and fell down the stairs. It seemed like one of those old Warner Bros. Wile E. Coyote cartoons where the coyote hits a wall, then sees stars. Lots of stars. I knew immediately this was not good — especially when I could not get up and stand on my foot.
On Monday, after a lot of prodding, X-rays and CT scans, the folks at the Rothman Institute told me I had a calcaneus fracture — in layman’s terms, a fractured heel. Basically, this means I’ll be off my feet for a couple of weeks until they do corrective surgery on the 25th.
While in the best of times, as you know, I’m not one to lay around, but the timing of this injury is especially upsetting. On the 25th, I was supposed to be in New York City on a panel at the NY LGBT Community Center to talk about Gay Liberation Front, Gay Youth and the 40th anniversary of Stonewall with my fellow pioneers from 1969-71. Instead, I’ll be in a hospital. The irony here is that I’ll be missing out on the celebration of my love of LGBT history and my own part in it — and, strange as it seems, I’ll also miss the interaction and heated disagreements of the panel. Truth be told, at times I even stoked the flames to watch the fireworks: I don’t know if there was a GLF meeting where I didn’t call someone an ageist.
Then, I was chair of Gay Youth and 18 and, well, you do the math. But these were my teachers and all that I have done since then is, in part, thanks to them. Those disagreements taught me how to continue to fight for what I thought was needed, regardless of those in our community who did not believe in agreeing to disagree and preferred using hateful tactics. They taught me to stick to my principles. The best comparison I could give is, it’s like your high-school reunion, but with historical significance. These are people I grew up with, learned about community building when there was no community. And the four of us Gay Youth who are still in the “alumni” are literally the first graduates of the new gay movement.
That Sunday, for the first time in many years, we planned to march as a group. We are the founders of that parade, the first LGBT community center, the first organization that cared for our youth and trans people. We debated feminism, marched against injustice, stickered the walls of Christopher Street and set up emergency phone lines. We held sit-ins, dances at Alternate U. and movie nights. Gay Youth even had a speakers’ bureau that visited high schools. These are my fondest memories of my youth.
To my dearest GLFers, I’ve enjoyed the disagreements that have led to our reunion — from one who will now miss it. Please soak up every minute. It is so special that it has filled me with emotion; I truly know how special this time is. So please try to appreciate all that we have accomplished rather than focus on our differences. You changed the world.
Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at [email protected].