Lesbian Herstory Archives AudioVisual Collections

Dyke TV


Dyke TV


Dyke TV was a groundbreaking public access program founded in 1993 by Mary Patierno, Ana Marie Simo and Linda Chapman. An offshoot of the Lesbian Avengers, the mission of Dyke TV was to incite, provoke and organize communities to create tangible change. The program sought to increase lesbian visibility and to systemically change people's views of lesbians, gay rights and women's rights. Dyke TV comprehensively documented a critical time period in gay and lesbian history and shared stories that were important to lesbian communities when no other programs were.

The program first aired in June 1993 on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network public access television channel. The show started off as a weekly 30 minute program produced by a core of Dyke TV producers with help from members of the community. The show followed a magazine format. Each program consisted of various segments such as I Was a Lesbian Child, The Arts, From the Archives, News and Eyewitness. Some areas of interest included lesbian history, daily life, activism, and international LGBTQ issues. Ideas for stories were discussed during production meetings and the producers welcomed ideas from everyone involved. According to one of the program’s co-founders and executive producer, Mary Patierno, “if anybody wanted to do a story we let them do it. We were there to let people voice whatever they wanted to, whatever issues or topics that were of interest to them.” The producers aimed to create a very well rounded program that could highlight lesbian life from as many angles as possible. Another part of Dyke TV’s mission was to train women in video production. The producers conducted regular workshops so that women could learn how to tell stories they wanted to tell in their own voices. This community oriented attitude allowed for widespread contributions about lesbian issues across the United States and abroad. At its peak, Dyke TV was distributed on 78 public access channels throughout the United States. Dyke TV documented many political actions happening in the early 1990s within the LGBTQ community, including actions by ACT UP and the Lesbian Avengers.

The Dyke TV collection at the Lesbian Herstory Archives consists largely of unedited footage that documents marches and demonstrations in New York City. Other tapes include incomplete episodes and compilations of show segments. Segments available to view in this exhibition include “The Arts,” “News,” “Eyewitness,” “I Was a Lesbian Child,” and “From the Archives.” This does not however represent the complete range of segments seen on Dyke TV; other favorites not seen here included Lesbian Health, On the Street, and Ann Northrop Mouths Off.

Collection Items

  • 055-04_lesbian-child-comp_a_c_3.mp4

    In this segment of I Was a Lesbian Child, Desireena Almoradie shares photographs from her childhood in the Philippines and stories of her life while growing up there.
  • 055-04_lesbian-child-comp_a_c_2.mp4

    In this segment of I Was a Lesbian Child, Jocelyn Taylor shares photographs from her childhood and stories of her life while growing up. She shares a memory from when she attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington DC.
  • 053-17_clark-corner_a_c_2.mp4

    This video features comedian Georgia Ragsdale. The video includes clips from an interview and stand up footage from one of Ragsdale’s performances. She discusses the way she approaches her work and being out as a comedian. Ragsdale explains that for her, “Being out as a comic isn't a choice, because as a stand up comedian all you have is your worldview, your perspective on life and your life and the people around you, so I don’t see how you have a choice to be in or out if you're a stand up comedian.” She also reminisces about her first hour long show when circumstances forced her to come up with enough material in a very short period of time.
  • 053-17_clark-corner_a_c_1.mp4

    A woman reports about discrimination and threats she and her girlfriend faced when they kissed at a restaurant in Brooklyn Heights. She talks about the “kiss in” she and the Lesbian Avengers were having restaurant in protest. She also talks about plans to file a police report and take legal action if possible.
  • 051-07_reverend-holland_a_c.mp4

    This video serves as a valuable resource to understand what a full episode of Dyke TV would have looked like when it aired. In addition to a segment titled, “From the Archives,” which spotlights the experience of lesbians in Harlem, and further illustrates the community presence outside of the well documented activism surrounding Stonewall. Next was an “Arts” segment, in which filmmaker Su Friedrich discusses her background and experience making films. Finally, there are two segments of “I was a Lesbian Child,” a segment which is represented in clips on this site. These segments aimed to normalize the lesbian experience; interviewees discuss their childhoods and showcase childhood photos. The video closes with credits, contact information, and a Public Service Announcement about street harassment.
  • 030-01_nyc-gay-pride-1993_a_c.mp4

    This clip shows archival footage of the New York City Gay Pride Parade on June 27, 1993. This particular parade represented the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It was also taking place at an apex for the movement against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, banning out gay people from military service. Participating groups include the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps, the Lesbian Avengers, the Women's Action Coalition, the Gay Veterans Association, and the Lesbian Herstory Archives. Also seen marching is politician Ruth Messinger and comedian/performer Lea DeLaria.
  • 028-04_world-aids-day-1996_a_c.mp4

    A Dyke TV report on World AIDS Day from New York City Hall. The event is a commemoration and demonstration memorializing New Yorkers who have died of AIDS, and a protest against budget cuts that will impact AIDS education, prevention, and services. It includes footage of people reading the names of the deceased, with City Hall chosen as a location to send a message to the mayor (Rudolph Giuliani) for his lack of response to the AIDS crisis. The report includes footage from a Housing Works Theater Project, "In Limbo", and interviews with participants including health care workers, an AIDS educator, and a harm reduction advocate and recipient of assistance at risk of being cut. Excerpts from the DYKE TV series "Risk, Lesbians, and AIDS" is also shown, including interviews with lesbian women living with AIDS and health care workers, and an excerpt from "Voices From the Front" about the People With AIDS Health Group and Act Up protests against the United States Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
  • dyke-tv-compilation_a_c.mp4

    This video is a compilation of edited footage of Dyke Marches from 1993-2001: the 1993 Dyke March in Washington D.C.; the 1993 Dyke March in New York City; the 1994 Dyke March in New York City; the 1995 Dyke March in New York City; the 1999 Dyke March in New York City; the 2000 Dyke March in New York City; and the 2001 Dyke March in New York City. The video includes interviews with lesbians and individuals who are participating in the Dyke March and studio interviews with Kelly Cogswell, Maxine Wolfe, and Marlene Colburn. Lesbians participating in the march express their need for visibility, civil rights, and liberation on all fronts.
  • 054-04_yugoslav-interview_a_c.mp4

    This is an interview with Jelena Topalović* about being a queer woman in Yogoslavia during the Yugoslav Wars. She discusses nationalism of the Serbian government, women’s rights, and social attitudes toward homosexuality. Topalović discusses the role of women in Serbian society- that of the mother and the nurturer, and how being a lesbian places people outside that paradigm. She also discusses the government campaign to ban abortion, explaining that this makes lesbian women 'useless' members of society because they do not fit into a nationalistic image that a woman's purpose is to bear children to increase the Serbian population. While she notes there were no specific bans in place against lesbians, the government could still make life very difficult for them. She then discusses Arkadia, Serbia’s first Lesbian Lobby, in which she provides a space for women to gather and discuss issues that affect them, and how to fight misconceptions about lesbianism propagated by the government, and social stigmas against lesbians and single women.

    *Name changed for privacy

  • 028-05_ny-life-referrals_a_c.mp4

    This segment shows a short interview with filmmaker Maria Maggenti about her 1995 film The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love. Maggenti first developed the script of the film as a project for NYU’s Graduate Film Program, but abandoned it after several years of trying to work through much darker themes. She explains that, while the film deals with highly politicized topics like coming out, and interracial relationships, the film’s tone remains light and comedic. In this segment, Maggenti describes the making of the film, which included a crew that was entirely women, none of whom were paid; rather, she explains the film provided women the opportunity to expand their careers in the industry. The film was released on June 16th, 1995, and distributed by New Line Cinema. It also participated in several film festivals in 1995, including Sundance.
  • 020-02_gay-marriage_a_c.mp4

    This segment shows interviews with several members of the lesbian community, including a lesbian couple, a lesbian lawyer, and a mother of a lesbian, discussing the possibility of gay marriage. Themes discussed include the ways that legal marriage can or can not legitimize gay relationships; the presence or absence of gay people’s desire to get married; legal protections that marriage can provide; whether or not it would encourage parents to accept gay children; alternatives to gay marriage including domestic partnerships and second parent adoptions; and imaginings of what a lesbian wedding ceremony would look like. Also mentioned around 1:30 is the mass wedding of gay couples that took place as a demonstration on the lawn of the Lincoln Memorial on April 25,1993. This event was part of the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation.
  • DykeTV_FromTheArchives_Patierno.mp3

    Edited excerpt from an interview with Mary Patierno, cofounder of Dyke TV with Linda Chapman and Anna Maria Simo. In this excerpt, Mary describes the From the Archives segment that was sometimes included in Dyke TV programs.
  • 030-09_sf-pride-1995_a_c.mp4

    This footage shows events and gatherings from the third annual San Francisco Dyke March on June 18, 1995, themed "A World Without Borders." It includes several women giving brief speeches before the march begins on topics such as domestic violence and gay communities in South Africa. California State Senator Carole Migden and Assistant Secratoary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Roberta Achtenberg appear in the march. At the end of the march, Achtenberg gives a speech, and the singer Rozalla performs.
  • 030-02_nyc-gay-pride-1993_a_c.mp4

    Raw footage of the the Gay Pride Parade in New York City near Washington Square Park. Includes shots of spectators and parade participants including the Gay Police Association, RuPaul, Love Lounge, New Jersey Lesbian Coalition, The Eulenspiegel Society, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Long Island, Senior Action in a Gay Environment (SAGE), the Hetrick-Martin Institute, People With AIDS Coalition (PWAC) and PWAC Mother's Support Group, AIDS Resource Center, Community Health Project, The Village AIDS Programs, and Gay Men's Health Crisis. "Boycott Colorado" signs are present throughout, referencing Colorado's 1992 ballot Amendment 2 that prevented protected status under the law for homosexuals or bisexuals.
  • ThirdSeasonRecruitment.pdf

    A flyer announcing the third season of Dyke TV and encouraging people to come to a producer's meeting to present ideas.
  • GoodNewsFlyer.pdf

    A Dyke TV flyer announcing various events including screenings, workshops, and parties, as well as new Board of Directors memebrs. The reverse side of the flyer announces New York Dyke TV airtimes and encourages support
  • ExpansionLetter.pdf

    A press release announcing that Dyke TV will begin airing in San Francisco and seven other cities, for a total reach to 18 cities. The announcement notes the current cities of distribution, and describes content that will be included in upcoming programming.
  • DykeTVBeijing.pdf

    A fundraising letter asking for support for the Dyke TV Beijing Project to attend the NGO Forum at the United Nations World Conference on Women to record testimonies from women. The letter notes a partnership between Dyke TV and FIRE (Feminist International Radio Endeavor) to also bring recorded testimonies to short wave radio.
  • FundraisingLetter1994.pdf

    A fundraising letter describing some of the past news and features presented by Dyke TV, and asking for donations to continue creating programming. The letter warns that without help, Dyke TV will soon be off the air.
  • dyke-tv-logo.jpg

    In this interview Mary Patierno, co-founder and executive producer of Dyke TV discusses Dyke TV, a groundbreaking public access program produced in New York City by and for lesbians. Pateirno talks about the program’s history and its goals. She mentions some of Dyke TV’s important news stories and recollects some of the interviews the show conducted with women artists, activists and public figures. Patierno stresses the importance of preserving other Dyke TV footage that currently remains in storage. In addition to providing more detail about the structure of the episodes, Patierno discusses her experience creating the show, the circumstances surrounding the show’s founding, and the show’s legacy as the first lesbian content on television.

    *Note: The interview was recorded using an online call service.

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