Book review: And Then I Danced, by Mark Segal

Segal And Then I DancedSegal, Mark. And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality. Open Lens/Akashic Books, 2015. $29.95 400p. HC. ISBN 9781617754104.

This book’s title perfectly sums up its contents, as Segal takes us on his personal life journey through 1970s/1980s LGBT history, with tales of his own enthusiastic contributions to that same history. Along the way, he would embrace identities as gay activist/demonstrator, journalist, political lobbyist and gala benefit party planner, all in joyous service to his community.
Coming of age in New York City, Segal was witness to and/or participant in several pivotal moments in LGBT history, including Stonewall and the tumultuous formation of the Gay Liberation Front and its offshoots. Perhaps most memorably: he and a few allies created a series of nonviolent “zaps” of institutions deemed to be discriminatory to the cause, including, on December 10, 1973, a live broadcast of the CBS Evening News, anchored by the one and only Walter Cronkite (who later became a friend and staunch LGBT ally).

Segal was also among the first LGBT guests on a national daytime talk show (The Phil Donahue Show), thus becoming one of the early faces of the movement. Eventually, he would find his way to print journalism, as he settled in Pennsylvania, founding the Philadelphia Gay News in 1976. Segal’s activist spirit would take many forms through the years.

As his commitment to local and national politics increased, his personal life would fluctuate, with the end of a long-term relationship and intimate involvement in the AIDS crisis. But today, at age 64, with a new husband and several LGBT-related civic achievements to his credit in Philadelphia, Mark Segal can look back on a life well lived with humor and dedication.

Segal’s writing style is engrossing and never ponderous. His extensive detail regarding Philadelphia politics can seem a tad excessive at times, but not oppressively so. The book includes numerous photographs illustrating his life from cradle to senior citizen status. And Then I Danced is highly recommended for all LGBT history collections and especially for readers with interest in Pennsylvania/Philadelphia politics.

Cathy Ritchie
Acquisitions/Selection Services
Dallas (TX) Public Library

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