Steven Capsuto, "Alternate Channels: Queer Images on 20th-Century TV" (2020)


Steven Capsuto's book Alternate Channels: Queer Images on 20th-Century TV (2020) explores the fight for lesbian and gay visibility on 20th-century American television, as gay activists faced off with powerful, often vicious "traditional values" crusaders, with TV executives caught in the crossfire.

It documents countless programs, characters, and political skirmishes, examining lesbian and gay portrayals and the few pioneering depictions of bisexual and trans people.

The first edition was a semifinalist for what is now the Stonewall Book Award and has been widely used in universities. This revised edition, fact-checked from scratch, reinstates material that the original publisher cut and adds about 100 photos of TV shows from the early days to the year 2000.

The author built this account of events from archival materials, a thousand broadcast recordings, and his interviews with showrunners, network and studio executives, and early activists.

Steven Capsuto began researching sexual-minority images on television in 1987 while volunteering with a lesbian and gay crisis hotline. Since 1990, he has given video-illustrated lectures in dozens of cities about televised LGBTQ portrayals. The first edition of his book, Alternate Channels, was a semifinalist for what is now the Stonewall Book Award. From the 1980's to 2000's oversaw the GLBT Library/Archives of Philadelphia (first the library and later the archives). He has served as a historical consultant or researcher on documentaries such as After Stonewall, TV Revolution, and The Question of Equality, and for the 2020 documentary series Visible: Out on Television. 

John Marszalek III is author of Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi (2020, University Press of Mississippi). He is clinical faculty of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Southern New Hampshire University.

Morris Ardoin is author of Stone Motel: Memoirs of a Cajun Boy. He earned a bachelor’s in journalism from Louisiana State University and a master’s in communication from the University of Louisiana. A public relations practitioner, his work has appeared in regional, national, and international media. He divides his time between New York City and Cornwallville, New York, where he does most of his writing. His blog, Parenthetically Speaking, can be found at

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John Marszalek

John Marszalek III is a host of the podcast Queer Voices on the LGBTQ+ Channel of the New Books Network.

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