Originally published on Advocate.com October 25 2004 11:00 PM ET
Gays across France celebrated the launch of the country's first television channel for queer audiences on Monday, anticipating a "pink" mixture of fashion, travel, talk, cult movies, music, and soap operas. The launch of Pink TV comes as gays in France are already making headlines with a controversial push to legalize same-sex marriages and calling for enhanced fiscal rights of gay couples. "The gay wave," the Le Parisien daily paper said in big letters atop of a rainbow flag on its front page. But the creators of Pink TV say they also want to cater to heterosexuals. "Pink will not be a ghetto channel but one to assert gay identity," its president, Pascal Houzelot, told Le Parisien. "We want to accompany a positive development in society but remain watchful of movements going the opposite way." Houzelot estimates some 3.5 million people in France are gay, some 7% of the population, and hopes to attract at least 180,000 subscribers to the private channel. For $11 a month viewers will be able to cheer gay comedians, enter debates on gay rights, enjoy classic films, or watch porn movies late at night.
Gay rights activists say the channel could help make homosexuality more acceptable in France, where the conservative government has taken a strong stance against legalizing gay marriages or allowing gays to adopt children. "The gay channel helps to show homosexuality is something normal, which is a good thing," said Alain Piriou from the Inter-LGBT gay rights group. "It can highlight that gays are just another part of society with their own interests." But Piriou said Pink TV, whose launch has caused little controversy so far, would be unlikely to play a major role in the struggle to improve gay rights. "In our campaign to legalize gay weddings, for example, we seek to address as broad an audience as possible. Promoting this demand on the gay channel--to ourselves, basically--doesn't really serve this interest," he said. The debate about same-sex marriages gained steam after a maverick mayor performed France's first gay wedding in June. Although a court subsequently annulled it, many gay couples have vowed to tie the knot. Some politicians from the Socialist opposition are promising to push for legalizing gay marriage, but conservatives oppose it as an attack on the sanctity of marriage.