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I want my Gay TV.

Good news for anyone chanting, "I want my Gay TV!" We'll soon have not one, but three new gay channels!

Despite the public bonhomie among the three ("there's room for everybody, everyone will find a niche"), they are all rushing to get on the air first. Initially, I worried that the programmers would take any old proven television formula, add a gay, a couple rainbows, and be good to go--Gay Friends, The Gay Shandling Show, Really Judging Gay Amy, Gay Ellen. Those shows were pitched and nixed. A few got through, but the new channels are also developing TV that reflects our lives and tells our stories. And these days, Gay Survivor seems so redundant.

Here! TV, established in 2002, is a pay-service cable network. Viewers can subscribe or purchase individual on-demand programs. In addition to its gay and lesbian film library, Here! is developing original programming. Its ambitious goal is six new series and twelve new films per year. Already in the can are shows on gay parenting, a supernatural soap opera, a gothic horror series, a naval action drama, another about a rogue asteroid, and a hard-boiled detective series. Here! also plans to film live drama and comedy. *

Q TV, launched in late 2004, proudly self-identifies as "a gay lifestyle" channel for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, and the curious. It is available on the satellite service RCN in Boston, San Francisco, and New York, and is soon to expand to Denver, Washington, D.C., and Seattle. It covers gay travel, gay sporting events, including bowling, and gay pride festivals. In addition, it plans to host live broadcasts, though its morning show's title Goad Morning Gay America was spiked by ABC for copyright infringement. It is now known simply as Gay Day.

Unlike the other gay-per-view channels, LOGO, from the cable giant Viacom, is an advertiser-supported, basic cable channel. It will broadcast its movie library as well as an ongoing documentary series, specials, narrative shows, newscasts, and reality shows. Its February launch date was postponed to late June for programming reasons and because LOGO experienced difficulties getting into some markets: a.k.a., "A gay cable channel? Over my dead body." Some reps informed LOGO that there were no gays in their markets. I think that was the Cheney Ponderosa in Wyoming.

Of course, everybody does not love our Gay Monde. Among others, the American Family Association's head PEO (Puritan Executive Officer), Tim Wildmon, who warned that late-night gay channels could turn pornographic given that "the very nature of homosexuality is based on eroticism and the infatuation with sex." Apparently his cable package does not have HBO's Sex in the City or ABC'S Desperate Housewives.

I hope the new formats will offer an opportunity to showcase some of the daring LGBT plays and performances that are often seen only live. Think Playhouse Gay 90s.

My fear is, in this very extreme time for gays, that TV is too medium. It can suck the life force out of the populace. TV is a portal to passivity. TiVo is not activism. Virtual community is not real community.

If masses of GLBT protesters appeared every Sunday as the local religious right jumbotrons were cooling down from spewing anti-gay rhetoric, and the security guards were overheard saying to one another, "That cursed religion show on Here! must have just signed off," I might feel better. If statehouses were flooded with gay marriage advocates, and judges were heard mumbling, "It's that damnable Take Back Your Government show on QTV," I might feel better. Or if women's health centers were suddenly guarded by GLBT health vigilantes, and besieged providers were heard saying, "Thank goddess for that LOGO Health Show, here's a condom," then we'd be on to something.

Kate "*full disclosure: Here! taped my 'Kate Clinton: Talking a Blue Streak' for a July through September airing" Clinton is a humorist.
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Title Annotation:Unplugged
Author:Clinton, Kate
Publication:The Progressive
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2005
Words:645
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