Middle-aged women have WE, blacks have BET, and now the gay community has Logo to call their own.
The Logo channel is exclusively dedicated to serving America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) audience. Its debut on June 30 not only makes Logo relatively new to viewers, but it is also the first to provide America with a gay presence on television.
Logo was conceived by MTV Networks. Even with the enormous success of its various programming services, the media giant realized something was missing from the modern television landscape. From that realization the concept of logo was born. For the first time, members of the gay community can see themselves on television without being forced to watch Will & Grace or Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Logo offers “programming that reflects our lives. Programming that tells our stories,” according to the channel’s Web site, Logoonline.com.
The channel’s programming is obviously geared toward the interests of the gay community, but there is no shortage of quality content for viewers of all sexual orientations. Logo has acquired the rights to broadcast more than 250 gay- and lesbian-themed movies, such as Angels in America, Mulholland Drive and The Birdcage. Reality is portrayed in a documentary series called Real Momentum, which highlights the eclectic membership of the LGBT community by showcasing the lives of gay rappers, gay Latinos and lesbian surfers.
The channel has also developed original series that interweave the LGBT lifestyle into entertaining comedic and dramatic formats. Several titles include Noah’s Arc, a dramedy about a black gay man’s struggles with life and love in Los Angeles, and First Comes Love, a reality show dedicated to making wedding dreams come true for gay and lesbian couples.
In addition, Logo has partnered with CBS News to report on various LGBT issues in order to exclusively provide what Logoonline.com refers to as “a gay point of view.” The channel will be airing the first broadcast of The 16th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, which will surely become a staple of award-season mania.
The success of this channel will be determined by the response of viewers around the country. MTV was contacted for comment numerous times but never replied to questions regarding Logo and its reception by the LGBT community. However, the opinions of students revealed the rumblings of a serious debate. Many only offered positive feedback.
“From what I have heard, the Logo network has been well accepted. Personally, I think it is great. It offers shows that LGBT people can relate to and offers a place for those who are struggling with their orientation to feel normal,” said Brittany Bishop, a member of the P.R.I.D.E. Alliance and a freshman.
There was even mention of emerging competitors for Logo.
“I’ve heard of Logo as well as a handful of other LGBT-oriented channels, and I think they are a fine idea,” said Ryan Harrell, also a member of the P.R.I.D.E. Alliance and a freshman.
However, the discussion heated up when students were asked to describe how they felt about the arrival of LGBT programming on television.
“The channel ultimately serves the network and its advertisers, not the LGBT community. It wouldn’t exist if someone didn’t feel money could be made through advertising,” said Carter Winkle, a member of the P.R.I.D.E. Alliance and a graduate student.
Even heterosexual students expressed similar sentiments.
“TV networks are so desperate for ratings and new material that they feel it necessary to target specific groups, such as the LGBT community, which is absurd,” sophomore Brittany Healy said.
“The creation of this channel alienates that group from society even more, and it shows how our culture wrongfully segregates people simply because they’re different from the norm.”
While it is evident that some controversy exists, others are quick to point out that it is impossible to avoid.
“Like with all things that cause controversy, it came around in time. Much like seeing people of color in mainstream television took a while to catch on, so will shows and networks with homosexual characters or themes,” Bishop said.
Logo is a digital channel and is available through satellite and cable providers that choose to offer it. According to Logoonline.com, DIRECTV is the only provider that offers Logo in USF’s zip code. Although Logo is not available everywhere yet, its goal is “to be everywhere, because we are everywhere,” according to the Web site. Interestingly, many students who are familiar with Logo have never seen it. The channel’s currently limited accessibility seems to be holding it back from achieving maximum viewership, and may even be inciting some hostility.
“I am pleased that someone can see this channel because it certainly isn’t being advertised here in Tampa. I can only imagine that only more progressive or metropolitan cities are actually benefiting from its presence,” Winkle said.
Despite any arguments in support of or in opposition to Logo, it is apparent that the advent of a channel completely devoted to serving the LGBT community in America is pretty meaningful for television. Now it just needs to be meaningful for the people holding the remotes.