The marketing spiel makes the John C. Anderson Apartments sound like an enviable place to live: Open floor plans, oversized windows, and fully equipped kitchens, all in a happening downtown neighborhood.
The twist: The just-opened Philadelphia building is a pioneering “LGBT-friendly senior apartment community” — the only one in Pennsylvania, and one of just three LGBT-oriented senior housing developments nationwide.
As they sang the project’s praises at a ribbon-cutting last month, dignitaries like Mayor Michael Nutter and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell singled out one man as the force behind it: Philadelphia Gay News founder and publisher Mark Segal.
A longtime gay activist who first took to the front lines for civil rights in the 1960s, Segal almost singlehandedly pushed elected officials, government agencies and development partners to make the Anderson Apartments a reality.
It’s just the latest milestone for Segal, 61, whose gay activism started at age 18. Anyone old enough to remember Walter Cronkite might recall Segal’s famous disruption a CBS Evening News broadcast to protest a lack of coverage of gay issues. Today, he’s widely praised as the dean of gay journalism.
On the day before he and partner Jason Villmez departed for a long-awaited vacation — “I’m not telling you where!” Segal joked — the Forward caught up with him in Philadelphia.
Michael Kaminer: Did you have an “aha” moment when you realized the John C. Anderson Apartments were necessary?