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Evolution, revolution, and the construction of a gay cable channel
Unformatted Document Text:  3 Advertisers and media producers have a better idea of the size and spending power of the gay market, although some of these statistics remain controversial. National corporations are more comfortable about—and have expertise in—appealing to gay consumers and audiences, and are less vulnerable to the risks of right wing, anti-gay backlash. Viacom’s executives might also feel optimistic about a potential crossover audience for a gay cable channel. Showtime’s Queer as Folk¸ for example, rated highly with the channel’s heterosexual women subscribers: as Grace of Will & Grace memorably confessed, “gay sex is so hot.” Third, the past eight years have seen an exponential growth in openly gay and lesbian media professionals whose gayness is less a liability than an attribute to be capitalized on: gay professionals’ subcultural expertise is increasingly seen as a marketable commodity. This affords these employees a privileged opportunity to advocate for media attention to gay and lesbian consumers and to position themselves as uniquely qualified to pursue new initiatives. Fourth, developments in gay-themed content has made a dedicated gay cable channel more imaginable. Ellen DeGeneres’ coming out as an actor and as her sitcom character on Ellen was a watershed in United States primetime representations. This complemented the less sensationalized but more sustained commitment by MTV’s The Real World to including gay, lesbian, and bisexual participants, including people of color. Ellen was followed by Will & Grace, which features two gay men (the straight-laced Will and his flaming sidekick Jack) and is one of NBC’s top rated shows. Premium cable has also offered landmark representations of gay and lesbian characters, including Six Feet Under’s David Fisher who is intermittently involved with an African-American gay cop, and perhaps most significantly, Queer as Folk. According to Showtime’s Gene Falk, this series assured cable distributors that subscribers would not “freak” at seeing explicit gay content on the Sunday evening lineup; indeed the show has been credited

Authors: Sender, Katherine.
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Advertisers and media producers have a better idea of the size and spending power of the gay
market, although some of these statistics remain controversial. National corporations are more
comfortable about—and have expertise in—appealing to gay consumers and audiences, and are
less vulnerable to the risks of right wing, anti-gay backlash. Viacom’s executives might also feel
optimistic about a potential crossover audience for a gay cable channel. Showtime’s Queer as
Folk¸ for example, rated highly with the channel’s heterosexual women subscribers: as Grace of
Will & Grace memorably confessed, “gay sex is so hot.”
Third, the past eight years have seen an exponential growth in openly gay and lesbian
media professionals whose gayness is less a liability than an attribute to be capitalized on: gay
professionals’ subcultural expertise is increasingly seen as a marketable commodity. This affords
these employees a privileged opportunity to advocate for media attention to gay and lesbian
consumers and to position themselves as uniquely qualified to pursue new initiatives.
Fourth, developments in gay-themed content has made a dedicated gay cable channel
more imaginable. Ellen DeGeneres’ coming out as an actor and as her sitcom character on Ellen
was a watershed in United States primetime representations. This complemented the less
sensationalized but more sustained commitment by MTV’s The Real World to including gay,
lesbian, and bisexual participants, including people of color. Ellen was followed by Will &
Grace, which features two gay men (the straight-laced Will and his flaming sidekick Jack) and is
one of NBC’s top rated shows. Premium cable has also offered landmark representations of gay
and lesbian characters, including Six Feet Under’s David Fisher who is intermittently involved
with an African-American gay cop, and perhaps most significantly, Queer as Folk. According to
Showtime’s Gene Falk, this series assured cable distributors that subscribers would not “freak” at
seeing explicit gay content on the Sunday evening lineup; indeed the show has been credited


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