by Mark Segal
(Mark Segal, publisher of Philadelphia Gay News, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His memoir "And Then I Danced, Traveling The Road to LGBT Equality” has been number one on Amazon's LGBT memoir/biography bestsellers list. This column originally ran in the January 7, 2016, edition of PGN and can also be found at http://www.epgn.com/opinion/mark-my-words/9849-40-years-strong.)
This is a very special week here at PGN.
On Jan. 3, we marked the 40th anniversary of the first issue of PGN. We’ll have an official 40th anniversary edition and event later in the year; stay tuned for that information.
We are one of the few publications in the nation for the LGBT community that has reached this milestone, and the only one with the same publisher at the helm.
I don’t know if I can accurately explain my emotions as I write this column, but it is one of joy and something else that I’m just beginning to be able to utter: accomplishment.
That word is strong and I use it not in the sense of a publication that has met every deadline over its 40 years, nor as one that is financially stable in an industry that is going through major changes, but more about our staff and its capacity to fulfill the promise that the flag on this paper has stated every issue: “Honesty, Integrity, Professionalism.” We do that every week, and that commitment has made many people proud and others angry, but that is what a newspaper is supposed to be. Newspapers that print only happy or uncontroversial news have become irrelevant in this day of new media.
We continue to do our job with a dedication to the highest level of journalism, including printing features that sometimes look at the disenfranchised in our community. That spotlight is not always welcomed, but it’s important to remember that we are not a true community until we not only look at issues, but also begin to take steps to correct them. And making people aware of the issues is the very first step.
As someone who can look back on this community with almost 50 years of activism, I appreciate how young activists are attempting to bring inclusion to our community, but they sometimes do this without knowing our community’s history. I was a part of the group that fought to include all in our community, and as I look back on the 40 years of PGN, I see the influence that time period had on me and, in turn, PGN, by reviewing the stories we’ve published — including topics that some other LGBT publications still to this date have not addressed.
Here’s the best anniversary gift we at PGN can give you: We’ll continue each day to provide our readers with what they need to create community, and we’ll be proud to allow all your voices to be heard. And we’ll do that with respect.
To the entire staff of PGN, past and present, thank you for making me a proud publisher. But more importantly, thank you for your service to our community.