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.