The Origin of Gayblevision (1980)

The concept of Gayblevision is universally accredited to Gregg Cutts (1953-1983). Cutts had moved from Halifax to Vancouver in the 1970s. In addition to his founding role in Gayblevision, he was also involved with the Coming Out Show on Coop Radio, the Vancouver Gay Community Centre (V.G.C.C.), and the Society for Political Action for Gay People (S.P.A.G.).

The official minutes of a Satellite Video Exchange Society (VIVO) of a meeting held January 30, 1980 records Cutts enquiring as to how best to record a S.P.A.G.-sponsored City of Vancouver all-candidates meeting that would be focusing on Gay rights. SVES referred him to MM (Metro Media, a video access centre for alternative media production) and cable (Vancouver Cable 10).

In an interview with McEwen and Cutts rebroadcast in Gayblevision’s 6th ‘birthday’ episode (at 02:33), Cutts confirms he collaborated with Cable 10 to record that meeting and afterwards approached Cable 10 about a series for the gay community.

A meeting was called to gauge community interest and 22 men and 6 women attended. One of them was Mary Anne McEwen who had been invited by a friend. She became one of the three Gayblevision co-founders along with Cutts and Verne Powers.

McEwen (1946-2011) was the only original member with media experience. McEwen had been  educated at  University of British Columbia (1963-1967) – and was expelled from her UBC sorority in 1965 for being a lesbian  – and took film and video workshops at Simon Fraser University (1970-1972). She had run her own production company since 1977.

A 1980 West Ender newspaper article states it was Gayblevision that caused Verne Powers to finally come out, and Powers was quoted as saying the program had ‘literally’ changed his life.  Powers worked on the first five episodes,  and is the one who interviewed Tennessee Williams in a seminal Gayblevision episode. Powers left Vancouver to pursue other interests in late 1980.

The Incorporation of GBV-Gayblevision Society (1982)

The GBV-Gayblevision Society was incorporated as a non-profit Society in British Columbia in January 1982. Its first Directors were Colleen French, Gordon Armstrong, Wendy Tractenberg, Barry Spillman, and Don Durrell.

The only copy reflecting the Constitution in our collection is from  the Mary Anne McEwen Fond (MAM) – two pages of a dot matrix computer print out. We cannot confirm its accuracy in relation to the original, however, it likely reflects its intention. A legal copy is being pursued through the B.C. Archives and will be uploaded once received. No minutes of the Society exist in our collection.

GBV-Gayblevision Society was legally dissolved July 1986 due to a failure to renew.

Pacific Wave | December 1983-December 1984

“The Gayblevision Society has decided to develop a new program; one without a label as an outlet for all alternative lifestyles. The 80’s will be challenging. Dare to be different. Set the Trends. Be Part of the Pacific Wave.”

Gayblevision was rebranded as Pacific Wave starting with its 19 December 1983 episode through December 1984. The BC provincial Social Credit government’ s neo-liberal policies were undermining Human Rights legislation and defunding gay, lesbian and feminist groups. In the wake of their actions an LGBT community still debating the pros and cons of coming out became more reticent to expose their sexual identity in public. The effect on Gayblevision was significant.

The last episode identified as Pacific Wave was December 1984.  From the beginning of 1985 until the end of the series, it was once again referred to as Gayblevision.

Don Durrell in a Body Politic interview talked about Vancouver gays “diving back into the closet at an alarming rate” and the lack of community volunteer support for the program, let alone appearing as subject.

“Will Solidarity Be Restrained?” Body Politic, December 1983, Page 6

The Gayblevision audience was introduced to Pacific Wave during the final Gayblevision episode (Episode 41 at 20:30) of its original run on November 7th, 1983.

The show continued as Pacific Wave until December 1984.  From its first show in 1985 until the end of the series in 1986, it was once again identified as Gayblevision.