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social sciences

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Bingham, Mark (1970-2001)  
page: 1  2  

Flight 93's fate has inspired several film and television reenactments. Because these depictions of individual heroism relied heavily on ex post facto assertions from passengers' families and friends regarding their loved ones' composure under duress, the media were accused of engaging in mythmaking at a time when the nation hungered for any kind of positive imagery surrounding the day's horrendous events.

Their portrayal of Bingham as a courageous gay man certainly nourished the gay community's need for heroes as well.

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But these discussions, though important and unavoidable, overlook a much more profound aspect of Bingham's contribution to the national dialogue.

At 31, Bingham had reached a turning point. He and friend Amanda Mark had discussed a mutual desire to create a meaningful legacy, and writing was an option he found appealing. His response to a 1989 personals ad now reads as an insightful reflection on the necessity and risks of coming out. Correspondence with a friend doing volunteer youth work in Africa also reveals a fervent desire for a vocation of service.

A lengthy e-mail message to his rugby teammates could serve as a model of encouragement to all underdog contenders. In this message, he recalled the fears of rejection he had when he first began playing rugby, and then added, "As we worked and sweated and ran and talked together this year, I finally felt accepted as a gay man and a rugby player. My two irreconcilable worlds came together."

All of these communications are preserved in the 2002 biography by Jon Barrett. Because Bingham expressed these views with stunning clarity, they leave us a poignant and inspirational testament of an examined, if tragically shortened, life.

Bingham's mother has emerged as an articulate advocate and public speaker for airline safety, glbtq equality, and inclusiveness. At the time of the hijacking Bingham was returning to California to participate in a Muslim friend's wedding, a point Alice Hoglan emphasized when responding to anti-Muslim sentiments in the wake of 9/11.

Bingham is the subject of Melissa Etheridge's song "Tuesday Morning" (on her cd Lucky, 2004).

Friends and colleagues of Bingham have established the Mark Bingham Leadership Fund to provide University of California, Berkeley tuition and expenses to young men and women who reflect Bingham's qualities of leadership, scholarship, and sociability. The University of California, Berkeley Alumni Association has also established an award to memorialize Bingham. The City of San Francisco renamed the gym at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center in Bingham's honor. The International Gay Rugby Association has honored Bingham's memory by naming its biennial tournament the Bingham Cup.

Many of the friends who carry Mark Bingham's torch in 9/11 memorials and scholarship fundraising come from his once "irreconcilable" worlds of sports jocks and fraternity brothers, on the one hand, and gay friends and partners on the other. Such a feat of amity is a true hero's legacy.

Ruth M. Pettis

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Barrett, Jon. "Catching Up with Mark's Mom." The Advocate 962 (May 9, 2006): 42.

_____. Mark Bingham: Hero of Flight 93. Los Angeles: Advocate Books/Alyson Publications, 2002.

_____. "This Is Mark Bingham." The Advocate 854/855 (January 22, 2002): 40-46.

_____. "What Makes a Hero?" The Advocate 872 (September 17, 2002): 64-65.

Clinton, Paul. "Requiem for a Friend." The Advocate 850 (November 6, 2001): 19.

Dahir, Mubarak. "Our Heroes: Mark Bingham." The Advocate 849 (October 23, 2001): 45.

Longman, Jere. Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. a tribute to a great friend, a loving brother, an american hero. 2001-2006.

Mason, Margie. "Response to Terror: Passenger on Ill-fated Flight 93 a Hero by Any Label . . . ." Los Angeles Times (October 28, 2001): A5.

Nieves, Evelyn. "Passenger on Jet: Gay Hero or Hero Who Was Gay?" New York Times (January 16, 2002): A12.


    Citation Information
    Author: Pettis, Ruth M.  
    Entry Title: Bingham, Mark  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated September 12, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  


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