“In the Life” In the Flesh

Producer Charles Ignacio and host Katherine Linton.

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO | “In the Life,” an LGBTQ news and cultural affairs television program, made history when it premiered on PBS 25 years ago. The show was like nothing before, yet it stayed ahead of its time, exploring teen suicide, a Muslim lesbian, gender diversity, and the first Pride celebration in Montana — all in its first half-dozen years.

“In the Life” alumni gathered at the LGBT Community Center on June 13 to remember 20 years of groundbreaking programming.

“In the Life” creator John Scagliotta.

John Scagliotta, the show’s creator, recalled that the original working title for the show was “Different Drummers.” But then he heard that the late Mabel Hampton, an African-American SAGE member, once asked for her recollections of being a lesbian during the Harlem Renaissance, responded, “Oh, we were all in the life.”

Those returning included Maria-Elena Grant, a longtime member of the Lavender Light Gospel Choir, who appeared with her fellow singers in the program’s very first episode, something that she recalled as a “big move” that brought the choir “out of the closet in a way.”

All 20 seasons of “In the Life,” plus segments that never ran, are available and searchable on the UCLA Film and Television Archive at cinema.ucla.edu.

Lavender Light Gospel Choir veteran Maria-Elena Grant and producer John Catania.

The June 13 panel with the UCLA Film and Television Archive website in the background.

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