Lou Maletta, founder of Gay Cable Network (GCN) in 1982, native New Yorker, and active member of the New York Leather Community, passed away on November 2, at the age of 74. His wake, on November 6, and funeral, on November 7, took place at the San Jose Funeral Home in Ridgewood, Queens, and he was buried in Linden Cemetery in Queens.
Lou’s first broadcast was “Men and Films,” on April 10, 1982, and in July of that year, he aired his first coverage of the AIDS crisis, then called GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency), about Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS).
Lou’s colleagues Lee Sharmat and Sybil Bruncheon (John Burke) share their reminiscences of him.
Lou Maletta: Teacher & Participant in History
By Lee Sharmat, Co-Host Gay USA, GCN Sports
It started out innocently enough. Right, sure. Rich Flowers introduced me to Lou back in 1991 or ’92. We began with an informative, but very silly gay and lesbian sports show. I met Robert Parker and Carmine, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Sybil Bruncheon and Andy Humm and Ted –all at GCN. One day, Lou asked me if I want to cover the Democratic Primaries in New Hampshire for GCN News. I figured, what the hell, I'm unemployed, this sounds like fun—and that was the beginning of my political life, my thirst for the challenge, and my willingness to put myself into crazy situations in order to get the interview. And Lou—he taught me what to ask, how to survive, what to do—and to hold on tight throughout all of it. We traveled to Amsterdam for the first AIDS Conference, to Conventions, to crazy parties including his birthday party when Robin Byrd presented the cake at an inopportune time, and to Leather Fests, Marches, and Arrest-fests. I met and interviewed people that I never would have had the opportunity to meet, had it not been for Lou. He was my gay and lesbian issue Svengali.
I am so relieved that GCN’s VHS tape collection is at NYU now, and that it won't disintegrate somewhere in the dust. There is so much history there, history that Lou participated in, thanks to his shows. My thoughts are with his longtime lover Luke Valenti, and I am spending much time remembering Lou and all he taught me.
Lou Maletta: the Jack Warner of the Gay Cable World
By Sybil Bruncheon (John Burke)
Although I first officially met Lou in 1983, and then began collaborating with him on stage and club events and three different cable TV series that ran from 1984 to 1993, I feel like I've known him forever. Right after we taped our first show together, at the beginning of November, in '84, we began spending every week together working on exciting projects, fundraisers, upcoming shoots on location and in various downtown theatres in front of studio audiences, and of course, the Gay Pride Parade! The photo of Lou was taken outside the Plaza Hotel during our first parade together, when Lou's partner of many years, Luke Valenti drove me!!! Luke would have all of us convulsed with laughter for hours, whenever I saw him, and Lou said that Luke made him laugh more than anyone on Earth, and that it was the secret to a long marriage!! Lou will certainly be in my heart and memory forever ... and so I spent the day walking around Fire Island, chuckling at all the funny times we had, the poignant moments we shared, and the many friends we loved and lost. Lou's sense of humor was tremendous too, and his lifestyle fooled no one. If you spent any time with him at all, you would see that he was an incredibly learned and sophisticated man under all the leather and paraphernalia!!! And he revealed his classiness only when it suited him!!!! He was my producer with whom I clashed and bickered, and laughed and conspired! Lou was always happy for my successes, and gave great advice when I asked for it!!!! We made some fun and funny shows together, some of which still exist, and we chuckled at the thought that we were portrayed as the Bette Davis and Jack Warner of the Gay Cable world. Many thanks for so many gifts!!! And sweet dreams, old friend.