Mark Segal was 18 years old on the night of June 28, 1969, when he entered the Stonewall Inn. Raised by the only Jewish family in South Philadelphia’s Wilson Park housing project, Segal was no stranger to being an outsider. He told his parents he was leaving Philly to go to school in New York. In truth, he’d left to find a gay community. Watching an episode of The David Susskind Show years earlier, he’d learned that gay people existed in New York and knew that was where he belonged.
Segal went on to organize some of the earliest American LGBTQ+ organizations; help plan the first pride march in 1970; found the longest running LGBTQ+ weekly newspaper, the Philadelphia Gay News and become one of the most important figures in the alternative gay press. But on that night at Stonewall, he was still a teenager just exulting in the chance to drink and socialize with other LGBTQ+ people at a time when homosexuality was still treated as a psychological affliction by the medical establishment, immoral by most religions, and criminal under law.