Monday, February 28, 2011

Gay Activist Phil Siegel Speaks OUT

Produced by Charlotte Robinson

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Phil Siegel, Producer of “Coming Out in the 1950s: Stories of Our Lives” a new 14 minute video, as part of the Pye/Harris Legacy Project. In the video, three teen journalists interview gay elders about their coming out experiences during the McCarthy era when there was no visible gay community. Stories include Hadley Hall, an ROTC member who was outed and summarily discharged, Ron Rebholz, an academic who gave up a promising relationship to pursue an education because of the fear he experienced if the relationship continued, and Phyllis Lyon on her experiences founding of the first lesbian organization in America, the Daughters of Bilitus.

We talked to Siegel about his 35 year commitment to LGBT civil rights. Recently the Obama Administration decided not to appeal Section 3 of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. Section 3 applies to federal benefits and was found unconstitutional by a Federal Judge in Boston. Phil lives in California, where Prop 8 was also found unconstitutional and yet gay couples are still being denied marriage. When asked what his spin was on all this Siegel stated, “ I think this is like a huge baby step and I’ll tell you why. I love the idea that we’re going in this direction but I think that marriage on a state level is a very nice trophy to have on your mantel…My partner is Spanish and he wants to immigrate here. If I were straight we could get married tomorrow and he could be here. I can go to Spain (where gay marriage has been legal since 2005) in a Catholic country and I would have a green card and healthcare for the rest of my life and believe me that sounds appealing. The truth is we are not sure of where we will end up but the decision does not have to be based on workability and immigration if this were a federal law.”

Phil Siegel is also a publicist and has offered his services to national projects like the AIDS Memorial Quilt Tour in 1988. He also served as Co-Communications Director for the 2009 National Equality March on Washington D.C. He was on the founding board of Under One Roof that raised over $8 million for AIDS organizations and sat on the board of the AIDS Emergency Fund and the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. He has lived in San Francisco for nearly 30 years but spends much of his time with his Spanish partner in Barcelona.

“Coming Out in the 1950s: Stories of Our Lives” has just been made available for gay teens to learn about the history of the gay community.
For More Info: Pye/HarrisProject.org

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