16 November 2011

Who is Lou Maletta?

I’d never heard of him, until last week when I heard that he’d died, but now I think of him almost every time I turn on the TV.

I thought of him while watching "Dancing With the Stars", during Carson Kressley’s segment called “Queer Eye for the Dance Guy”. I thought of him during "Glee", when two gay characters had a romantic scene, and when two lesbians had a moment during dinner. Then again, when one of the girls was outed. OK, pretty much continuously during "Glee". On the subway, I saw an ad for “Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys”, and Lou popped into my head again.

Lou founded the Gay Cable Network in 1982, when there was little or no gay programming of any kind, and now look what his vision has grown into.

He began the network on public access television. It actually started from a weekly program called “Men & Film” on Channel 35 on Manhattan Cable Television. Mr. Maletta showed gay pornographic movies that he had edited to make less explicit. After watching a 30-year old friend waste away from AIDS, which was in its early stages at that time and called “the gay cancer”, Lou was motivated to expand the programming to include news, entertainment, political commentary, and cultural and health-related programs. He created and mailed videotapes of programs and sent them to public-access channels in 20 cities.

Lou drew attention to the AIDS epidemic, enlisting officials from New York City’s health department and Gay Men’s Health Crisis to provide segments. From 1984 to 2000, he provided coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, traveling himself to the floor.

The entire LOGO network was made possible because of him. Ellen, "Modern Family", "Pretty Little Liars", even the Housewives all owe something to Lou.

Thanks, man.

-Maura McGurk

Maura makes artwork about issues related to the LGBT/queer/gay experience, especially gay bullying. Take a stand against gay bullying by checking out her work, liking it on Facebook, or commenting on her blog.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know who he was either. Thanks for that, Maura. It's always good to know those who started movements for the rights of others - Rosa Parks, Crystal Lee Sutton, and, now, Lou Maletta.


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