Gay Cable Network Founder Lou Maletta Signs Off

11.14.2011

By Jon Roth

Founding the Gay Cable Network in 1982, Maletta brought LGBT issues to the small screen like never before.

From the carefully edited gay erotica first featured in Men & Film to the gay-rights oriented coverage of the Democratic and Republic National Conventions, Lou Maletta's Gay Cable Network never shied from controversy. The founder's death on November 2 in Kingston, New York from liver cancer has many recalling his fearless character and invaluable contributions to the LGBT community.

Men & Film, Maletta's first program, featured smartly cut pornographic material that just barely passed television 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. In 2009, Maletta told Gay City News he decided to diversify GCN's offerings after seeing a friend rapidly wasting away from AIDS (then known as GRID – gay related immune deficiency). "No one had seen a KS lesion on TV until we put it on cable," he said.
 
While GCN broadcast, it carried moving coverage of the AIDS quilt in Washington DC, dedicated reporting on both Republican and Democratic National Conventions, coverage of the 1987 gay rights march on Washington and more. Most importantly, in an era before here! and Logo, he presented television programming by and for queer people.
 
Maletta is survived by his partner of 37 years, Luke Valenti, and a daughter from a previous marriage. The entire archives of the Gay Cable Network were acquired by New York University's Fales Library in 2009 – they represent decades of LGBT history. Check out a few highlights of the archive in the video here, then thank Lou for making it possible.
 
 
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