A Mark Bingham history tour
BY Barbara Wilcox
September 11 2006 12:00 AM ET
Five years later,
he's an iconic image—a smiling man in a Cal ball cap.
And everyone knows his story.
September 11, 2001, passengers aboard a Boeing 757 from
Newark began getting frantic cell phone calls from
loved ones about planes that just had been hijacked
and smashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
When hijackers emerged in their midst, the passengers
realized that their plane too was to be used as a
weapon and rose up to wrest United Airlines Flight 93
from the terrorists' presumptive Washington, D.C.,
charge was 31-year-old Mark Bingham: rugby champion; PR firm
owner; friend to hundreds; fervent University of California,
Berkeley, booster; and gay man. His death—and,
when his story hit the wires, his life—gave
America an authentic gay hero.
Bingham's memorial service—held, fittingly, on the
Cal campus. More than 500 people packed Wheeler Hall
to hear Sen. John McCain eulogize the man he said
saved his life by diverting Flight 93 from the
Capitol. Onstage with the Republican senator was Bingham's
former partner, Paul Holm. This felt earthshaking:
Only a few years earlier, Robert Dole had returned a
campaign donation from the Log Cabin Republicans
rather than be tainted by gays. The memorial held out hope
of unity that Holm says Bingham, who moved
effortlessly among many circles, would have
Mark Bingham with his mother, Alice Hoglan
be proud of him—black, white, gay, straight, Bay
Area, New Yorkers—because of his actions that day,"
says Holm, who was with him nearly five years. "We in
the gay community should be particularly proud because
his actions broke a lot of stereotypes."
Five years on,
many would say the world has not lived up to the promise
held out that day—not for homeland security, not for
gays, not for religious tolerance, not for anybody.
But the nature of heroes is that they impel us to seek
So it's a good
time to think again about Mark Bingham. The amazing movie
United 93 is out on DVD. We list some of the
many tributes made to him. And we visit some of his favorite
places, as related by his friends, to get a sense of
who he was and to feel close to a gay man who made a
California Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.Getty images
Here's where our
hero, class of '93, famously tackled the Wisconsin
badger mascot at a football game, then later performed the
same maneuver on archrival Stanford's Tree.
sheets to the wind during the 1992 Big Game, ran onto the
field and sacked the Cardinal mascot, a guy in a huge,
cumbersome tree getup. This time, he was
arrested—cuffed and carted off to a Berkeley
jail, his mother, Alice Hoglan, told Salon's Kevin Berger.
His fingerprints from that arrest were used to
identify his body in Pennsylvania.
sport, of course, was rugby—Cal's athletic claim to
fame. He was a member of the 1991 team that won Cal
the first of 12 consecutive national championships. If
you want to catch a game, home pitch is just up
breathtakingly rustic Strawberry Canyon at Witter Rugby
fraternity, Chi Psi, is a few blocks southwest of the
stadium at 2311 Piedmont at Durant avenues. His fave
local watering hole, Henry's, is a convenient three
blocks west at 2600 Durant.
"He'd get up on
the bar and dance when Cal won," recalls Holm. "Even
when they lost too, depending on the game."
Since 2005, the
California Alumni Association has bestowed an annual Mark
Bingham Award on a young graduate of exceptional
accomplishment. The inaugural award went to NASA's
Wayne Lee, who led the team that landed two robotic
rovers on Mars.
A separate Mark
Bingham Leadership Scholarship, administered by the
California Community Foundation, assists a Cal student who
hews to the values Bingham held dear—including
gay rights and Chi Psi.
But our story
shifts to San Francisco, where Bingham started his career
in PR (he'd eventually start his own firm) and, of course,
played a lot of sports.
- Multiple Attacks on Gay Men in NYC, Hours After Rally
- Father of Teen Facing Felony for Lesbian Relationship Says She's Been Targeted Before
- WATCH: President Obama Tells Morehouse Grads 'Be the Best Husband to Your Boyfriend'
- French Marriage Equality Opponent Commits Suicide at Notre Dame
- Illinois Will Pass Marriage Equality Bill, Sponsor Says
- Marriage Equality Makes Progress in U.K.
Sign Up For Email Updates
- Women WATCH: Kathy Griffin Calls for Suze Orman for President! 59 min 10 sec ago
- Marriage Equality Marriage Equality Makes Progress in U.K. 1 hour 2 min ago
- Women PHOTOS: Stars Come Out for the LA Gay and Lesbian Center's 'An Evening with Women' 1 hour 24 min ago
- Video Meet the Delicious Diet Dr Pepper Dude 1 hour 28 min ago
- Women INTERVIEW: Vicci Martinez Speaks her Truth 2 hours 53 min ago
- Politics Neither Democrats Nor Republicans Pleased With Virginia's GOP Lt. Gov. Nominee 5:39 PM
- Entertainment News Bling King: Liberace Car, Piano on View in NYC 5:22 PM