In 1982, Lou Maletta launched the first ever Gay Cable Network in New York City. Maletta started small with the program “Men in Films,” which explored male erotica, and soon 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.
Men & Film, Maletta’s first program, featured some jazzily cut gay pornographic material that just barely passed even early cable access censorship standards and created a space for gay lust on television. Maletta would soon expand his programming to include news, sports and entertainment, all with a gay perspective.
Maletta went out and covered everything he could in the community with a sense of mission and the conviction that “the way to educate people was with the greatest tool of all time — television.”
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 GLBT and AIDS demonstrations outside the conventions, as well as countless local and national protests including the 1987 and 1993 national marches on Washington and the rise of ACT UP in 1987. Maletta and GCN also covered the social, cultural, and sexual lives.
Some of the notables interviewed on the network were Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Harvey Fierstein, Tony Kushner, director Derek Jarman, Quentin Crisp, writer Vito Russo, Sara Jessica Parker, and Barbara Walters, among an eclectic mix of countless others.
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 GLBT history and important for the education of future generations to come.
Lou Maletta was true LGBT Media Pioneer
Watch the interview below with Gay Cable Network founder Lou Maletta. conducted on August 7, 2009 by producer Jeffrey Schwarz for the 2011 HBO documentary VITO
Click HERE To Watch Gay Cable Network Archive Library Promotional Spot w/a Ton Of Clips on YouTube.