If you’re a fan of television and ever pay a visit to Los Angeles or New York City, The Paley Center for Media should top your list of places to go. Outside of their regular events and conversations with writers, producers, directors and actors of shows both past and present, the Paley Center has a massive collection of both TV and radio artifacts in their archive. This includes items from the LGBT community in and on television, which ranges a 1978 made-for-TV film about a lesbian mom fighting for custody of her child (A Question of Love), to DYKE TV programming from the 1990s. It extends through today, too, with pieces from shows like Pretty Little Liars and, of course, Ellen.
“A Question of Love” (L) and Dyke TV logo (R)
Next Wednesday, November 12, the Paley Center will host their Los Angeles Gala celebrating Television’s Impact on LGBT Equality. Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi co-chairs of the event, and several out members of the television world will attend and support the fundraiser.
Maureen J. Reidy is President and CEO of The Paley Center for Media, and she told AfterEllen she thinks that this year is “the perfect time to recognize television’s role with regard to these most important issues.”
“Our goal is to celebrate not just one network or person, but the pool of pioneers, and innovators both past and present that have made an impact on our perceptions and understanding of the challenges facing the LGBT community,” Maureen said.
The Paley LGBT collection has, Maureen said, added “hundreds of hours of exciting, important and groundbreaking LGBT programming” just in time for the Gala. This includes pieces from the first portrayals of our community in the early 1960s and the documentaries that represented us fairly and accurately for the first time.
“Arguably, more than any other medium, television has played a critical role in chronicling the history of the LGBT civil rights movement, including the Stonewall Riots which were barely covered by the mainstream media at the time,” Maureen said. “It took pioneering documentaries like PBS’ Before Stonewall and After Stonewall to give the struggle a voice by capturing the recollections of the individuals who experienced these milestone moments firsthand. And in 2014, an incredible work like HBO’s The Case Against 8 brought us closer to the historic Supreme Court case by allowing us to experience the personal stories of the couples involved.”
An area in which Maureen said she’s seen the most growth in the past few years has been the coverage of gay, lesbian, bi and trans athletes. She notes television coverage of sports stars like Jason Collins, Michael Sam, and Brittney Griner as having “changed the conversation about LGBT equality within the sports world.”
“Because of the amazing images within the Paley LGBT collection, we know that these courageous out athletes stand on the shoulders of groundbreaking pioneers including Billie Jean King, David Kopay, Martina Navratilova, and Greg Louganis,” Maureen said.
The Gala will both celebrate and honor many in attendance, including creators and stars of shows like Glee, The Fosters, Faking It and Modern Family.
Rita Volk at PaleyFest’s recent “Faking It” Panel
“I think those in attendance will be surprised at just how closely television has reflected, and sometimes helped to spark the advancements made in the struggle for LGBT equality,” Maureen said. “We’re hoping to deliver an evening that is entertaining, enlightening and inspiring; and to get people excited about the Paley Center, the expansion of our LGBT archive and the work we’re doing not only in this area, but in exploring media’s impact on society overall. You can’t help but be moved by the journey we’ve all been on in terms of understanding the challenges facing the LGBT community when they come to life before your eyes not only in the archival clips, but in the recollections of the individuals who’ll be taking part in the program. We hope the evening will inspire all of the creative talents, and visionary executives in the room, and those who’ll be following the event through social media, to continue telling these stories so that full equality will not just be a dream, but a reality. We are so close, and television can help to move us even closer.”
Tickets to the Los Angeles Gala are still available through PaleyCenter.org. AfterEllen will be hitting the red carpet to talk to attendees about their work and how it fits into such a special part of television history.