Gay Media History - Lou Maletta and NYC's Gay Cable Network: (1984 - 2000)

Remembering Lou Maletta Pioneering LGBT Journalist and Founder of the Gay Cable Network

As I sit here at the 2013 LGBT Media Journalist Covening in Philadelphia I can’t help think of one of the first LGBT media pioneers Lou Maletta, who founded the Gay Cable Network in NYC in 1982.  The first television station entirely dedicated to and created for LGBT community.
Maletta started small with “Men in Films,” which showed  edited gay pornography but soon evolved to covering events important in the community. He was inspired to  expand his programming on Gay Cable Network after seeing the effects AIDS had on a friend  “No one had seen a KS lesion on TV until we put it on cable,” Manetta once said and he went on to develop news programming that gave virtually the only television attention to the nascent AIDS crisis and the ongoing fight for LGBT rights.

Maletta went out and covered everything he could in the community with a sense of mission, passion and the conviction that  to educate people was with the greatest tool of all time — television.

Some of Manetta’s most notable interviews celebrity interviews included Quentin Crisp, writer Vito Russo,  Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Harvey Fierstein, Tony Kushner, director Derek Jarman, Sara Jessica Parker, and Barbara Walters, and also eclectic mix of countless others..

From 1984 to 2000, the Gay Cable Network provided team coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, with reporters on the floor interviewing political leaders from Dick Cheney, Henry Kissinger, and George W. Bush to Jesse Jackson and Ann Richards. The network also covered LGBT and AIDS demonstrations outside the conventions, as well as countless local and national protests including the 1987 and 1993 national marches on Washington along with covering the rise of ACT UP and providing heartbreaking and moving coverage of the AIDS quilt

Lou Maletta shut down operations in 2001, and sadly passed away at the age 74 of liver cancer in 2011 but thankfully the entire archives of the Gay Cable Network were acquired by New York University’s Fales Library for restoration, and preservation. The footage is a priceless piece of LGBT history and important for the education of future LGBT generations to come.

Lou Maletta was true LGBT Media Pioneer and should always be remembered and hailed as such. I wish he could be with us here today.  But while he’s not in body, I am sure that he is here with us in spirit.

Click HERE To watch a Gay Cable Network Archive Library Promotional Spot w/a ton of clips on YouTube.

2 thoughts on “Remembering Lou Maletta Pioneering LGBT Journalist and Founder of the Gay Cable Network

  1. Thank you Will for a wonderful remembrance of Lou. He was more than just a friend but family to me and to so many who’s lives he touched!! My thoughts and condolences go out to Luke and his family.

    I met and started working with Lou in 1985 I was not only his assistant / field director for many of the events you mentioned but I also had the pleasure nay the honor of being first hand witness to the many wonderful changes Lou was directly responsible in making in our community during a very dark struggle in the 80’s and 90’s….he brought light to the dark corners of and chronicled the life and times of so many from the everyday GLBT folks to the famous who have him to thank!! And he did it out of his own pocket and a constant army of friends and volunteers who were inspired by his magnetic personality and a laugh that told you King Louie was in the room long before you saw him in his cowboy hat, leather, spandex and muscle T-shirt!! He was such a character!! It makes me smile every time I think about him!!! He made an impression every where he went THAT’S for sure!!

    I also wanted to thank you for sharing the short documentary posted on Youtube that Lou ask my partner Keith and I to come to New York to make in 2004 and help him find a place to preserve his VAST archive of footage some dating back to The Emerald City Show in the 70’s that Lou bought to preserve himself!! He was just as interested in preserving our Gay history as he was in recording it in ALL it’s colors of the Rainbow!! There really should be a documentary made about Lou and his important contribution to our history! Lou will NEVER be forgotten not as long as I am alive!!

  2. I was on one of Lou’s first shows called the Way We Were with my husband Richard Hendlowitch who is now deceased. I am still here and would love to see the video again. It was many moons ago Lou came to our place and filmed us. Precious memories…No one was like Lou he was an original…I can still hear his unique voice. It was a great experience and now Lou is gone which is so sad. Anyone who has information please contact me…..thanks for the memory Lou….

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