One of my favorite movies as a kid (and to this day) was “Auntie Mame.”


If you haven’t seen it, it’s about an eccentric woman living her life to the fullest. There’s a line in the film that has become my life’s motto: “Life is a banquet and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death.”mark-segal


But this week there’s another line from the film that applies to my life. Mame writes her autobiography and at the launch party for her book, her friend, Vera Charles (played in the musical version of the film by Bea Arthur from “Maude” and “Golden Girls” fame), says, “Mame, I didn’t even know you were literate.” I did tell you it was a comedy …


Well, this week I’ve been on a book tour launching my memoir: “And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality,” which is now available in bookstores and online. As I write this, I’ve just finished the New York City launch party, and I’m a little emotional, since my story of LGBT activism started at Stonewall. At the New York event, my brothers from that night, and more importantly that first year of Gay Liberation Front, 1969-70, were out in force to support their brother’s book, which describes some of our crazier exploits — which ultimately led to the creation of what today we call the LGBT community. Seeing fellow pioneers and even LGBT historians like David Carter, who wrote what some feel is the definitive book on Stonewall, at the launch party allowed me to come to grips with my past and the enormity of all that I shared in the book. These people are my family.


Also with us was my old friend Randy Wicker. Randy is the longest-serving LGBT activist in America. He literally was the first LGBT person to take up a picket sign for gay rights, before Frank Kameny and before my old friend Barbara Gittings. And he told the crowd that it was the best LGBT history memoir book he’s ever read. The book has surprised me since I had no expectations for it, and I’m still coming to terms with the praise it’s receiving.


Life is full of surprises, especially if you reject negativity and bitterness and seek out the joy around you. And that is the message of the book.

 

Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at PhilaGayNews. His memoir AND THEN I DANCED is available online and at your favorite bookstore.

 

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