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Op-ed: I Want My Gay TV 

Op-ed: I Want My Gay TV 


Ten years ago, in March of 2002, I attended a standing-room only Times Talk event entitled "I Want My Gay TV." Moderated by Stuart Elliott, the panel addressed the LGBT community's need and collective desire for representation on television. Amid rumors that Showtime was developing an LGBT channel, the audience clamored for confirmation that our dream would soon be realized.

Three years later, it was. Viacom launched Logo as a source of inclusive and positive LGBT programming on cable television. As the first and, at the time, singular embodiment of substantive LGBT news and reporting on television, In The Life Media welcomed Logo. In fact, we were proud that IN THE LIFE was included as part of the network's initial launch and was shown on Logo for two years.

Recently, news of a seismic shift in format was revealed when Logo announced its 2012 schedule and we learned that not one show in Logo's new line-up is strictly LGBT. Instead of continuing its commitment to gay-focused television, Logo will be presenting rip-offs of Toddlers & Tiaras and Mob Wives, a show (Scandalicious) in which comedians and tastemakers voice their opinions "on topics that are frivolous," and Design My Dog. According to Logo's General Manager and Executive Vice President, Lisa Sherman, this move is intended to create a slate that reflects "gays and lesbians' increasing integration into mainstream culture and their desire for shows that appeal to multiple interests." Really? If Design My Dog represents LGBT assimilation into mainstream culture, things are much worse than I thought.

Ms. Sherman adds, "Our goal at Logo has always been to honestly reflect our viewers' lives. We're now reinforcing our commitment to them with programming that truly mirrors how many of them are living and want to be entertained today." I don't know about you, but Logo's new lineup doesn't reflect the life of any LGBT person I know. Let's just call this what it is: Logo's attempt to improve poor ratings by copying the reality show template elevated (some may say degraded) by Bravo.

While Logo broadcasts their new Wiseguys and endless reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, In The Life Media will continue to create programming that spotlights critical issues affecting LGBT individuals, such as teen bullying and LGBT youth homelessness, workplace protections, HIV criminalization, adoption rights, and ties between an elite organization of U.S. conservatives and the proposed "Kill the Gays" bill in Uganda. Judging by Logo's press statement, these are not topics that interest mainstream gays and lesbians.

Clearly, no one else is doing what we do because it is expensive and maintaining journalistic independence in the current media climate can be difficult. However, it is necessary. And, even though we don't have Viacom's budget, In The Life Media (a nonprofit organization) has dedicated donors who support our work. Since media drives public opinion, LGBT-specific programming is integral to shaping public debate. It can best inform policymakers and influence potential allies in the "moveable middle." In The Life Media is proud to be a leading counterpoint to the bigotry and propaganda advanced by multi-billion dollar, anti-gay media machines and hate groups, like Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, and American Family Association.

Of course, in this day and age, In The Life Media is much more than television. We are a leader in LGBT digital journalism. We provide hundreds of LGBT and allied organizations with resources they could not otherwise afford. We create partnerships that amplify our voice and carry our message across the globe. Still, the television medium remains our hallmark. As the Huffington Post has written, "At a time when LGBT people are virtually invisible in the media, IN THE LIFE brings images reflecting the cultural and geographic diversity of the gay and lesbian communities into living rooms across the country."

Edward R. Murrow, the pioneering journalist, was right when he said that, if used to educate viewers, television could have an amazing impact. Understanding this, In The Life Media was founded on the simple, yet audacious premise that presenting the lives of real LGBT people can -- and will -- advance LGBT rights. For two decades, we have proven this to be true.

News of Logo's programming change caused Huffington Post to exclaim, "GAY TV as we know it is dead." I beg to differ. It is alive and well -- just not on Logo.

MICHELLE KRISTEL is the executive director of In The Life Media. For more information go to

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