Jewish pride and progress


While recently working at my desk to complete a project for which I was on deadline, I decided to take a break and check my email. There I saw a press release announcing an upcoming event by Jewish Pride — the LGBT affinity group of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia — scheduled for Feb. 8.

Then I recalled last week’s decision to host a group from an Israeli LGBT youth organization at the John C. Anderson affordable LGBT-friendly senior apartments for an LGBT intergenerational discussion. Then it dawned on me that I’d just been to a Jewish wedding in City Hall presided over by a Conservative Jewish rabbi and Mayor Michael Nutter.

Thinking about all this sort of tickled me. Let me explain.  

Back in 1969 when we started Gay Youth as a committee of Gay Liberation Front in New York City soon after the Stonewall Riots, we in GY would often yell at our GLF brothers and sisters that they refused to give us any responsibility, and that was ageist. So they took us up on that demand when an invitation came to do a talk-radio show on WBAI. Since I was GY president,  it fell to me. It was the first radio show I was to do; I was 18 and green in so many ways, but off I went.

The first part of the show dealt with explaining the mission of GY and GLF, along with trying to educate the audience on the new gay-rights movement. Then we took calls.

The very first call is to this day the only one I can remember. The caller, in what seemed to be a heavy Jewish accent, asked, “Mr. Segal, are you Jewish?” I responded “yes.” He then again asked, “Are you Jewish?’ I again affirmed and he replied, “You can’t be both: a homosexual and a Jew. It’s against the words in the Torah.” He began to read lines from the Old Testament and actually tossed in a few from the New Testament.

I don’t think I have to editorialize here; all I have to say, with great pride, is that we really have traveled a long road.