October 8, 2015 at 11:14 am EDT | by Mariah Cooper
Inside perspectives
Kerry Eleveld, Mark Segal, gay news, Washington Blade

Kerry Eleveld, on left, says LGBT progress in recent years has been so important, she had to chronicle it. Mark Segal says colleagues urged him to share his first-hand experiences of early gay history. (Eleveld photo by Maria Fernanda; Segal photo by Peter Lien)

LGBT rights have been fought for in many different ways over recent decades from grassroots efforts to riots, but two LGBT journalists have made the pen their weapon of choice.

Mark Segal and Kerry Eleveld have both released their own books this month chronicling different parts of gay rights history. Segal’s “And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality” and Eleveld’s “Don’t Tell Me to Wait: How the Fight for Gay Rights Changed America and Transformed Obama’s Presidency” can both be found on Amazon.

Segal, founder and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, says many people had asked him to write a book for years. They thought he had a story to tell and should share it. Segal’s story, a firsthand account of the Stonewall riots, was that he was a teenager inside the Stonewall bar.

“And Then I Danced” chronicles what Segal saw during the riots as well as his other activist efforts for gay rights. Encounters with celebrities such as Elton John and Patti LaBelle are also included.

Segal says he thinks the most important thing for an LGBT journalist chronicling the gay rights movement is to present correct information. He feels a lot of misconception about the Stonewall riots is due to misinformation. This led to his decision to write about the riots from his perspective.

“Make sure to get the facts correct,” Segal says. “I was the only journalist there. I tried to write the night as I saw it.”

Eleveld, who has written for the Advocate, Huffington Post and the Atlantic, believes that the amount of progress that had been made for same-sex marriage under the Obama administration was so paramount that she had to chronicle it. She put special emphasis on the grassroots efforts that were involved in the movement.

“I was convinced that I had witnessed something extraordinary,” Eleveld says. “In terms of how much progress was made on LGBT issues in such a short amount of time and the possibility that average citizens could really reach and affect the highest levels of government including the White House and the president himself.”

“Don’t Tell Me to Wait,” which Eleveld began writing a proposal for in 2012, covers same-sex marriage and the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Eleveld says she recognizes that there were multiple factors that helped gay rights move forward but that the grassroots activism was the “special sauce” that helped things along and led to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

She says that once she moved away from D.C. in 2013, she was able to fully sit back and analyze the movement. Collectively, Eleveld spent about a year and a half writing and researching her book. She spent her time interviewing people she already knew and was familiar with as well as those she had never met in order to complete the project.

Eleveld hopes that “progressive readers” and “progressive Americans” take time to read her book. She thinks that no matter what other cause someone is fighting for, they can learn from the grassroots activism that was used during the Obama Administration to move gay rights further along.

“Whether they are interested in labor or immigration or reproductive freedom or black lives matter, I hope that they can read this book and glean lessons from it,” Eleveld says.

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