About a month ago, Channel 6 ABC’s out meteorologist Adam Joseph contacted me about the station’s plans for its employee Pride day event and asked if I’d be their speaker. It would be the last of the almost 20 speaking gigs I’ve done for Pride month this year, and a great way to end the month. I hadn’t realized that it also would mark a major turning point in my life.
Adam has become somewhat of an activist since coming out himself at the birth of his first child. One of his primary advocacy issues is fighting to have the Red Cross allow gay men to donate blood, and the station has been supportive of his speaking out about it. This year he asked the station if it would celebrate Pride, thus he was on the spot asked to create Pride at WPVI-TV.
He arranged speakers, a dinner for the station’s staff catered by LGBT caterers, including a great bakery owned by a trans woman. He even put up a display of the various Pride flags and the meaning of each color. This he did himself at home as part of a family project, and he proudly hung it in the station’s lobby for all to see.
While I fielded questions during our stationwide Zoom call, Adam and their tech team had arranged to show a few photos of my early zaps. As we talked there was a picture of me storming a TV studio and handcuffing myself to the camera, one of me chained to the Liberty Bell, storming the CBS Evening News, and then my favorite: disrupting a Republican fundraising dinner.
As this slideshow of my life was being shown it dawned on me that in 1972 the first ever zap I did was at WPVI itself. In the middle of the 11pm Action News, live on camera, I disrupted the anchorman, Larry Kane. The only harm done was when the Sports guy got his makeup on my shirt. The following morning it was the entire front page of the Daily News and top story of the Inquirer. That first zap taught me how to end the invisibility of our community. At that time LGBT people were stereotyped and most could not believe that a gay man would storm and take control of the evening news.
WPVI didn’t quite appreciate that zap, but it is now our history, and now 42 years later that station presented me with a beautiful crystal award. Written on the award was “6ABC is philly proud to honor Mark Segal, community leader, LGBTQ+ rights pioneer and founder of the Philadelphia Gay News.” If that is not a full circle, nothing is. Thank you WPVI, for making an old activist see the change that we fought for.