Memories of Parades Past

Simon de Hundehutte

On Gay Pride weekend some fifteen years back, I was working as a producer for a cable television network in New York City.  The windows of the studio for this particular network faced onto Fifth Avenue -- the route of the Gay Pride Parade.  During regular programming, our station would cut to live in-studio news breaks and could, on occasion, include the live activity transpiring outside on the sidewalk and street.

Now the network I worked for was, at the time, set up to broadcast all family-oriented programming, whether shows produced from the studio itself or shows bought by the network to broadcast as reruns.

As the weekend producer, part of my programming responsibilities were to make decisions concerning the live news breaks.

When the gay pride parade was in full swing and passing directly by our studio windows, pretty much everyone in the building that day, from those in the control room to the floor manager and on-camera talent, commented that we should show the parade as part of our hourly, one-minute news break.  There were a lot of news items to cover that day and they were already scripted for Ted (not his real name), the on-camera talent.  But, Ted was eager to tout the passing parade and wanted to scrap the prepared news copy.  Ted got the control room on board for the change; then the floor manager conceded.  Finally, the decision to broadcast the parade live fell into my lap.

"So, are we going to broadcast the parade?" Ted asked me.

I was very nervous from the pressure.  Everyone in the building that day, as I said, wanted to air the parade.  But, as the producer, the person ultimately in charge, I had to carefully consider my decision.  As a Christian, too, I could not promote the "pride" -- especially in my role as "gatekeeper" for a family network.

I knew from seeing gay pride parades from previous years that the behavior on display was, to put it mildly, over the top.  Much was incredibly offensive, including some women marching bare-chested and some men dancing around basically nude.  Some of the signs carried also displayed vulgar messages.

So, my response to Ted's question about broadcasting the parade live?

"No," I said.

"No?" Ted asked incredulously.  "You mean, we have this big, live event happening right outside our window and you don't want to show it?"

"No," I repeated again, as calmly as before.

Almost immediately, something very interesting happened.  The floor manager said, "Yeh, maybe it's not such a good idea.  Things in that parade can be pretty 'rough'."

And, there was a ripple effect -- I heard similar responses from others in the studio and in the control room, as well.

In fact, the only one still upset by my decision was Ted.  But, he relented and went on-air with the regular, scripted news break -- and the tension inside me for "bucking the system" passed.

Believe me, I was very nervous before that decision as to what my co-workers would think when I nixed their "great idea."  But, fortunately, instead of trying to mount an argument that would most assuredly have led to bitterness and anger in a liberal-minded studio, I let my "yes be yes and no be no," as Scripture encourages.

That was my experience some fifteen years ago at a "family network."

Today, "family" has a whole new meaning.  For instance, ABC Family is a network that airs "fit for the whole family" programming.  But consider, ABC's "Modern Family" features a gay couple who have adopted a baby girl from Korea -- and this "family" is presented as the new normal.

After the network I worked for changed its format and moved its headquarters to L.A. in the late 90's, all of us at the studio lost our jobs.  And I have since moved into another area of media and entertainment.  But in present-day America, I could not take the stand I did years back without being labeled a homophobe -- at the very least.  I would almost definitely find myself without employment, and certainly not a job with a position of clout at a major "family" network.

On Gay Pride weekend some fifteen years back, I was working as a producer for a cable television network in New York City.  The windows of the studio for this particular network faced onto Fifth Avenue -- the route of the Gay Pride Parade.  During regular programming, our station would cut to live in-studio news breaks and could, on occasion, include the live activity transpiring outside on the sidewalk and street.

Now the network I worked for was, at the time, set up to broadcast all family-oriented programming, whether shows produced from the studio itself or shows bought by the network to broadcast as reruns.

As the weekend producer, part of my programming responsibilities were to make decisions concerning the live news breaks.

When the gay pride parade was in full swing and passing directly by our studio windows, pretty much everyone in the building that day, from those in the control room to the floor manager and on-camera talent, commented that we should show the parade as part of our hourly, one-minute news break.  There were a lot of news items to cover that day and they were already scripted for Ted (not his real name), the on-camera talent.  But, Ted was eager to tout the passing parade and wanted to scrap the prepared news copy.  Ted got the control room on board for the change; then the floor manager conceded.  Finally, the decision to broadcast the parade live fell into my lap.

"So, are we going to broadcast the parade?" Ted asked me.

I was very nervous from the pressure.  Everyone in the building that day, as I said, wanted to air the parade.  But, as the producer, the person ultimately in charge, I had to carefully consider my decision.  As a Christian, too, I could not promote the "pride" -- especially in my role as "gatekeeper" for a family network.

I knew from seeing gay pride parades from previous years that the behavior on display was, to put it mildly, over the top.  Much was incredibly offensive, including some women marching bare-chested and some men dancing around basically nude.  Some of the signs carried also displayed vulgar messages.

So, my response to Ted's question about broadcasting the parade live?

"No," I said.

"No?" Ted asked incredulously.  "You mean, we have this big, live event happening right outside our window and you don't want to show it?"

"No," I repeated again, as calmly as before.

Almost immediately, something very interesting happened.  The floor manager said, "Yeh, maybe it's not such a good idea.  Things in that parade can be pretty 'rough'."

And, there was a ripple effect -- I heard similar responses from others in the studio and in the control room, as well.

In fact, the only one still upset by my decision was Ted.  But, he relented and went on-air with the regular, scripted news break -- and the tension inside me for "bucking the system" passed.

Believe me, I was very nervous before that decision as to what my co-workers would think when I nixed their "great idea."  But, fortunately, instead of trying to mount an argument that would most assuredly have led to bitterness and anger in a liberal-minded studio, I let my "yes be yes and no be no," as Scripture encourages.

That was my experience some fifteen years ago at a "family network."

Today, "family" has a whole new meaning.  For instance, ABC Family is a network that airs "fit for the whole family" programming.  But consider, ABC's "Modern Family" features a gay couple who have adopted a baby girl from Korea -- and this "family" is presented as the new normal.

After the network I worked for changed its format and moved its headquarters to L.A. in the late 90's, all of us at the studio lost our jobs.  And I have since moved into another area of media and entertainment.  But in present-day America, I could not take the stand I did years back without being labeled a homophobe -- at the very least.  I would almost definitely find myself without employment, and certainly not a job with a position of clout at a major "family" network.