Television has finally come out of the closet. After years of questioning its sexuality, TV is slapping on its pride pin with the new digital cable channel Logo.
Part of Viacom's MTV Networks division, the channel is making history by being the first to provide programming exclusively aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) viewers. Launched June 30, 2005, Logo is now available in over 18 million homes. And because it is part of Charter's digital movie tier, viewers need only tune in to channel 662 to see the gayest thing to hit television since Tinky Winky.
The Logo channel is the latest in a series of advancements for the LGBT awareness movement. It is hard to believe that it was almost a decade ago (in 1997, to be exact) when both Ellen DeGeneres and her sitcom counterpart came out on national television. She paved the way for the Emmy award-winning shows "Will & Grace" and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," which proved gay characters could be immensely popular with both the entertainment industry and the American public.
One of the biggest catalysts was Showtime, the creator of the original series "Queer as Folk" and "The L Word." Pushing the envelope for homosexuality on the small screen, these pay-cable programs were controversial and provocative. More importantly, they demonstrated that gay-centered programming could be both popular and profitable. It should come as no surprise that someone decided to take it one step further and go "all-gay, all-day".
Being such a young channel, Logo fills a majority of its airtime with films. Classics such as "The Birdcage" and "Cabaret" are obvious staples, but not everything shown is a "gay movie." For instance, starting next month viewers can catch "Saving Silverman" or "Being John Malkovich."
The network will also air film series, such as "Acting Out: The Guts to Play Gay." Each week the series honors actors like Glenn Close, Matthew Broderick and Kate Winslet, who all took chances by playing gay and lesbian characters before it was as widely accepted in Hollywood as it is today.
The most intriguing films are those in Logo's documentary series "Real Momentum." Ranging from teens raised by same-sex parents to the few remaining gay survivors of the Holocaust, the subjects of these documentaries are gripping and innovative. One need not go much farther than the titles to realize that they are exploring topics not found anywhere else on television — for example "Farm Family: In Search of Gay Life in Rural America" and "Hip-Hop Homos."
As far as original programming goes, Logo has gotten a good start with reality TV. "Open Bar" follows Tyler, a guy simultaneously trying to adjust to his new life out of the closet while embarking on a risky business venture — opening a gay bar in West Hollywood. "Round Trip Ticket" is a one-of-a-kind travel show that sends its viewers to gay-friendly spots around the globe that are "fabulous" in every sense of the word. Actor/comedian Scott Thompson (of "Kids in the Hall" fame) hosts "First Comes Love," which was originally broadcast in Canada as "My Fabulous Gay Wedding." The show is Logo's answer to "A Wedding Story," showing the planning stages (and sometimes fiascos) that lead up to the eventual nuptials of a committed and loving same-sex couple.
Nevertheless, films and reality TV are only the start for Logo. It will try its hand at fictional drama with "Noah's Arc," premiering Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 9 p.m. Hoping to be the gay "Sex and the City," the show chronicles four friends living and loving in Los Angeles — all of whom happen to be gay African-American men.
What Logo offers does not end there. The channel airs concerts by musicians popular among the LGBT community like Kylie Minogue, Sarah McLachlan and Morrisey. Gay and lesbian comedians are showcased on the stand-up comedy series "Wisecrack." In addition, Logo has partnered with CBS News to cover current stories concerning LGBT issues.
This wide variety of programming is the beauty of an exclusively gay-centered channel. Homosexual characters are nuanced, in contrast to the usually stereotypical gay characters that the rest of TV delivers to living rooms.
If viewers want some rainbow in that big blue sky called life, they should check out Logo. The channel is not just for gays and lesbians, but anyone who is interested in a gay point of view. Never short on originality, expect to see Logo grow into its own in the years to come.