Today is the day that the first videos are rolling out on Gwist, the new gay-centric network I'm launching in partnership with YouTube. Part of me wants to believe this will be headline-grabbing, but I know it really isn't. Don't get me wrong: I believe Gwist will be wildly popular, with great shows and videos that appeal not only to the gay audience but to anyone who wants to "be a gay." But is this Logo redux for me? Not so much. A lot has changed in 10 years.
This week in 2003 I and a few Viacom sales executives were at the Time Warner Cable offices in Minneapolis, trying to gauge their willingness to launch a gay channel in that market. We knew that the Time Warner system in New York was a no-brainer, and that the Time Warner system in El Paso was a "no way," but would the Time Warner system in Minneapolis, a large Midwestern market that is home to both the Mondales and the Bachmanns, consider launching this controversial network that dared not speak its name (it wasn't even called Logo yet!)? Sure, Will & Grace was a hit network show, and Queer as Folk was having success on Showtime, but a "gay network" was still a risky, provocative idea. Many internal brand and business discussions centered on how Logo could be simultaneously authentic to the gay community, appealing to a gay-adjacent audience and palatable for cable operators. On the creative front, every gay employee at Viacom wanted to be involved; how liberating to be sitting around a giant corporate conference table throwing around gay programming ideas! When Logo was officially given the green light and announced in May 2004 (after three on-again/off-again years of varying business and programming models), it was big news. It was a lead story in The New York Times, GLAAD's Joan Garry debated Jim Dobson on CNN, Entertainment Tonight covered it, and it blew up in the emerging blogosphere. It was really moving the needle, and somewhere between 2 and 10 percent of Americans -- I believe we used "5.5 percent" in the business plan -- instantly new about it and felt ownership and pride.
Ten years later I imagine that most people, even gays, aren't aware that there is a new gay YouTube channel, nor do they care. Gays are visible on (almost) every broadcast and cable network, we're coming out of the closet everywhere, and you can't go a day without a gay story in the news. Ten years ago I couldn't conceive that a gay channel could be launched and seen by anyone in the world, that it could be done without a multinational corporation behind it, and that those behind it would have total creative freedom. Sure, there's still lots to be done, but in the last decade I've been legally married (and divorced), my dad voted for Obama in large part because he loves me, and I'm feeling peer pressure to have a baby. And Logo is available on channel 480 on Time Warner in El Paso.
So as much as my ego would enjoy another 15 minutes of fame with the launch of Gwist, it ain't gonna happen. And that's the big headline!