July 10, 2011, by Melanie Nathan,
Los Angles, 1988 the gay scene buzzed with “Perfect”, aerobics in West Hollywood, cocaine was cool, the Gay pride Parade a phenomenon and lipstick lesbians reinventing woman-queer on one side of the Palms while dykes intrigued from the other end!
At the time I was dabbling in media, playing if you will, far from my lawyer roots. It was fun. A challenge especially when one does not have a clue. One summer day my partner at the time and I were approached by the LA Gay and Lesbian Center; a young man by the name of Gabe asked us if we would be interested in producing a PSA for MTV to announce the Gay and Lesbian Youth Talk Line, a hot line for troubled gay teens.
We were asked to relate the video to drug use and the Center suggested a scene with a young person depicted in despair, snorting cocaine, followed by the PSA announcement.
‘Gay’ time on TV was non-existent so of course we did not like the image, especially not wanting to use our precious 30 second unique gay spot to parallel gays and lesbians with drugs. We wanted to assert a positive image of our queer youth in general. This was a tough challenge. But thanks to our relative youth and pride we were able to come up with a concept that worked.
We depict two young couples having fun, walking arm in arm along a Venice Beach walkway, and encountering heterosexual disapproval. Watch the Video and you will see how we spun the spin….
We were naive to think that our idea of normal gay banter would sit well with MTV executives. Of course it did not and the piece was banned by MTV.
One night while watching the Johnny Carson Show, I heard a familiar sound … it was that music that had played over and over in the edit room – yes, it was our Youth Talk Line production – they were showing, probably for the first time in the U.S.A. gay kids holding hands on Television.
The entire production was made via donated services. The only out of pocket money spent was $40.00 for donuts!
Melanie’s 1988 P.S.A. from Kristina Alexis on Vimeo.
Special thanks to Kristina Lipinski from www.GAYUSAthe movie.com for converting the Video Cassette to Quicktime!