VOLUME 3, ISSUE 322 | May 27 – June 2, 2004
MTV Starting LGBT Cable Network
The channel will feature original and acquired programming, with the original shows produced in collaboration with such Viacom divisions as Showtime, CBS News, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, and TV Land. The network has also acquired 100 gay-themed movies and will operate a separate on-demand movie service.
According to the company, the target audience will be gay men and lesbians 25 to 49 years old.
Pridevision TV, a Canadian ventured launched several years ago, failed to make traction in its efforts to penetrate the U.S. cable market.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) welcomed the MTV announcement.
“We’re excited,” said Joan Garry, GLAAD’s executive director, according to the Associated Press. “Cable television is about niche programming and our niche has been conspicuously absent for a long, long time… The recipe for success for a gay channel is programming vision, access to distribution and a comfort with risk-taking. MTV brings those things together.”
Meanwhile, Lou Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition has vowed to launch a boycott effort targeting LOGO’s advertisers.
How GOP Will Mark Memorial Day
Thousands of American soldiers have been killed or injured in the war in Iraq, but Republican senators were schooled twice in recent weeks on how to use the Memorial Day weekend to speak out against same-sex marriage, according to Roll Call. The party leaders are expected to try to force a vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment before the Democrats convene for their convention in Boston in July, even though the anti-gay amendment is given no chance of attracting the two-thirds necessary to advance it.
Talking points against same-sex marriage were circulated by the party, including a memo on the “Top Five Reasons to Defend Marriage.” “Changing the Subject from the Failing Bush Presidency” was not among the reasons listed.
Texas Librarian Equivocates on Same-Sex Marriage
First Lady Laura Bush was interviewed about the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts last week and dodged the subject. “It’s something people should talk about and debate,” she said, declining to comment on her husband’s campaign to limit marriage to heterosexual couples in the United State Constitution.
Asked if she would welcome a married gay couple to the White House, Mrs. Bush said, “Sure, of course.” But her press secretary, Gordon Johndroe, interjected that he could not imagine such a situation arising, the Boston Globe reported, and said that the question itself was “trivializing an issue that people are seriously trying to debate in this country.”
In another effort to soften the hard edges of the Bush administration, First Daughter Barbara Bush has let it be known that she wants to do work with the pediatric AIDS program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and twin Jenna will work with school children in Manhattan.
The M Word Gets Redefined
While politicians and courts continue to wrestle with the legal definition of marriage, many major dictionaries have already updated their definition to include same-sex couples. The Washington Times, which continues to put quotes around the word marriage when referring to gay couples as a rebuke, reported that the American Heritage Dictionary added a “’same sex’ clause” to its definition of marriage in 2000 and the venerable Oxford English Dictionary did so in 2001—though the OED never had a gender-specific definition in the first place.
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary got with the program last summer.
Catholics Diss Gays
Pope John Paul II, meeting with American Catholic leaders this week, urged them to protect marriage from “some who appear to lack a proper understanding of the intrinsically religious dimensions of this covenant.”
Pres. George W. Bush, a Methodist, will meet with the pope on June 4. John Kerry, a Catholic, has no plans to try to meet with John Paul and some officials in the American Catholic Church have said they would deny communion to the Massachusetts senator because he has a pro-choice voting record.
California Gay Legislation Advances
The state Senate in California voted 22-10 for a bill that creates a uniform definition of a hate crime, and provides the tools to curb such crimes. Geoffrey Kors of Equality California, the state lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lobby, said, “Government not only needs to address such crimes when they occur, but also to prevent such crimes from ever taking place.”
The bill now goes to the Assembly for consideration.
The Assembly passed a bill 45-31 prohibiting insurers from discriminating against registered domestic partners. It also voted 48-32 for a bill to standardize over 30 labor and employment nondiscrimination provisions to make them consistent with the Fair Employment and Housing Act, banning sexual orientation bias. The bills now go to the Senate.
Rosie’s New Baby
Rosie O’Donnell’s magazine “Rosie” shut down last year amidst much acrimony and litigation. But Fox News reports details on her decision, which she announced at the Human Rights Campaign dinner in New York earlier this year, to go down that road again. O’Donnell’s new venture will be a magazine for LGBT families, titled “R Family.” LPI Liberation Publications, the folks who put out “The Advocate” and “Out,” will publish it though Rosie will own it, according to the Fox story.
Tony Randall Gay Stories
To many, Tony Randall, who died at 84 on May 18, played a stereotypical gay man on stage and screen as well as in life, though he was married for 52 years to Florence Gibbs, who died in 1992, and married 25-year-old Heather Hamlan in 1995 when he was 75 and by whom he had two kids.
If Randall was gay, he never acknowledged it. He was the master of ceremonies for the first Human Rights Campaign Fund dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in 1982, when former Vice President Walter Mondale was the keynote speaker. The audience, unused to being validated in such a high-end establishment, repeatedly rose to its feet with the introduction of each luminary on hand.
“You’re giving standing ovations a bad name,” Randall scolded.
Randall was a big promoter of the arts and that led him to a fund-raiser at the Sheraton Hotel in early 1995 hosted by newly-elected state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, who had recently vowed to end his chamber’s already established policy of extending domestic partnership benefits to its gay and lesbian employees. As a reporter for Gay Cable Network, I asked him on camera why he was supporting such a reactionary group. “Will you leave me alone?” he replied.
Long after his great success with “The Odd Couple” on TV, Randall took on the role of a gay man who helps an unwed mother raise her child in “Love, Sidney,” which The New York Times noted is “often said to be the first gay lead character on television.”
Jake Gyllenhall and Heath Ledger may not be getting down and dirty in the Ang Lee film adaptation of Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain” about cowboys in love. Gyllenhall said he’s has no problem with playing a gay love scene, “but Ang said two men herding sheep was far more sexual than two men having sex on the screen,” the Malaysian Star reported. Gyllenhall said he grew up in a family with many gay couples as friends and acknowledged, “Every man goes through a period of thinking they’re attracted to another guy.”
Gary Lawman Remembered
Gay activist Gary Lawman was celebrated by his friends at a memorial service on Saturday at the LGBT Community Center. Lawman, who was living with AIDS, died in an auto accident in Florida last November. He was 43.
The Ohio-born Lawman was active in New York chapter of Dignity, the gay Catholic group, as well as local gay politics including with the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats and Gay and Lesbian Advocates for Change. He was remembered for his passion for social justice and commitment to making a difference.
Andy Humm can be contacted at AndyHumm@aol.com