The Lectures

Alternate Channels: LGBTQ Images on 20th-Century TV

An activist history of LGBTQ images on U.S. television from 1950 to the year 2000: from 1950s “sissy wrestlers” to Ellen, Will & GraceBuffy the Vampire Slayer and Queer as Folk. The presentation lasts 105 minutes, including 50 minutes of video spread through the talk.

We’ll look at portrayals in comedies, dramas and news. It’s the behind-the-scenes story of how and why portrayals went from invisible to slanderous to somewhat better in the course of a few decades. The talk is based on my book Alternate Channels (published by Ballantine; semifinalist for the 2001 Stonewall Book Award).

LGBTQ Youth, As Seen on TV: 1980s–2010s

In response to requests from high school GSAs and similar organizations, I put together this 55-minute presentation. The format is  similar but it looks at the changing status of LGBTQ youth in America over the past 35 years, as reflected on television.


Custom lectures for special events

Organizations sometimes ask me to put together custom talks built around TV clips. Past examples include:

  • Same-Sex Marriage on TV, 1970s to the Present
  • LGBTQ People in the Workplace, As Seen on TV
  • Black Sexual-Minority Characters on American TV since the 1970s


To book a lecture, email me at

Book cover: "Alternate Channels"BACKGROUND

While writing the book Alternate Channels, I was lucky enough to attend one of Vito Russo’s final Celluloid Closet lectures about queer images in cinema. His approach was informative and a lot of fun, and I decided to create a similar traveling talk about television.

My first presentation, at the 1990 Northeast LGB Student Union Conference in Boston, ran twice as long as expected: 3 hours, and almost everyone stayed for the whole thing and asked endless questions afterward.

I quickly pared it down to 105 minutes including Q&A, and have since given the talk at more than 40 colleges, universities and community events. On occasion, I’ve even been the keynote speaker at conferences and film festivals. I took a four-year break from lectures starting in 2014 for professional reasons, but am available again.

Here are just some of the places where I have given talks or appeared on panels about television’s LGBTQ images:

American Historical Association Conference • Barcelona International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival • Binghamton University • Boston University • Bournemouth University (UK) • Coe College (5 times) • COGAM LGBT Community Center (Madrid, Spain) • Console-ing Passions Conference (UK) • Dignity-USA National Convention • Free Library of Philadelphia • Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival • Gustavus Adolphus College • Illinois State University • Johns Hopkins University • LGBT Community Center (NYC) • Miami International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival • Minnesota State University – Mankato • Mohawk Valley Community College • The New School • New York University • Northeast LGB Student Union Conference (2 times) • Northeast LGBT Conference (2010 & 2011) • Northeast Ohio Medical University • Princeton University • Paley Center for Media (NYC) • Rutgers University (3 times) • St. Joseph’s University • San Francisco Public Library • San Francisco State University • Southeast Missouri State University • Suffolk University (Boston) • SUNY/Potsdam • SUNY/Tompkins Cortland • Temple University • Tri-C College (2 years in a row) • University at Buffalo • University of Delaware (3 times) • University of Florida • University of North Carolina • University of Pennsylvania (7 times) • William Way Community Center (2 times) • Various high schools • And many other venues.

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