"Checking Tolerance: Network Self-regulation and 1970s Gay Media Activism" talk by Professor Candace Moore
Professor Moore’s talk tells the story of a conditional armistice, freighted with mutual discomfort, formed out of a contestation between a minority rights group and the media industry during the 1970s. Groups such as the Gay Activist’s Alliance (GAA), the National Gay Task Force (NGTF), Lesbian Feminist Liberation (LFL), and the Gay Raider(s), among others, organized campaigns ranging from the ameliorative to radical, the large and small, to challenge television representations of homosexuals they saw as bigoted. Their contestations took many forms: attempts to get on-air illegally or by invitation, sit-ins in studios and network offices, public protests, letter writing campaigns, statements in the press, inquiries about the employment of homosexuals in the media industries, and scheduled meetings with network executives. What began as a project of militancy and contestation shaped into one of consultation and collaboration. Television producers and executives of the major broadcast networks, the press, and gay liberation representatives deployed similar, sometimes complementary discourses espousing the concept of tolerance when negotiating explicit representations of homosexuals in 1970s television. Both the media institutions that sensationalized and commodified non-normative sexualities and homosexual organizations themselves trafficked in constructions. They met on a ground that was never neutral—in fact, it was a setting full of contestation and compromise—yet it became fabricated as a civil ground.