Mark Segal, founder and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, had a bit of a surprise when he got his press credential while in Cuba earlier this month.
Segal was covering the country’s 10th Annual Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. He decided to make the trip to chart the changes since the Obama administration opened relations with the island nation. The trip was a “major thing” for Segal who 20 years earlier was denied credentials as a gay reporter and had to sneak into the country.
“I could have been arrested,” he said of the past trip.
Segal waited patiently – for over an hour − while the credential was handmade using paper, glue sticks, and an iron.
“In that regard, the country hasn’t changed,” he said. “Even the press credentials were in a time warp.”
When he looked down at the credential, his paper was listed as the Philadelphia Cat News.
“Somehow she got from Gay News to Cat News,” Segal said. He quickly brought the error to the secretary’s attention and they offered to redo the credential. Not wanting to repeat the teeth-pulling experience, Segal opted to keep the card as it was.
“OK, I’ll be Philadelphia Cat News,” he said. He put the press pass around his neck and went about his business, including interviewing Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raul Castro and head of Cuban National Center for Sex Education, the group that sponsored the event.
“Her security people didn’t blink an eye,” he said.
“We are lucky to be in a profession where we get experiences like this all the time,” said Segal. “And, sometimes it is just amusing.”
As for the Cat News credential?
“It is a great souvenir,” he said.