The Verse’s Alex Staddon headed down to the launch of the UK’s very first LGBT TV channel – Latest LGBT + …
After twenty-five years of projects, crowd and self-funding and scrupulous planning, Brighton’s local television company Latest are bringing forth a new channel: Latest LGBT +.
Twenty-five years. That’s a long time to be in development. The Latest network in Brighton has launched several projects in the last quarter-century. But perhaps none as significant as Latest LGBT+, in the works since the early 1990s. However, in spite of difficulties faced by the team – notably Sophie Cook, Bill Smith and Andrew Kay – Latest LGBT + proved to be the “most pleasure” to work towards – despite it being the “most difficult”. Indeed, the self-funding involved is believed to have been around £500,000 per person. It is fantastic to see so much effort finally paying off.
Andrew Kay, another key member of the Latest LGBT team has been with the team since the beginning. He told us that despite the setbacks and difficulties faced, it is a great feeling, seeing your project finally come off the ground. He also added that we shouldn’t be a city of “nay-sayers; let’s be gay-sayers!”. A very apt message for those within Brighton who still feel they are ungrounded or as though their efforts aren’t being fulfilled.
Officially launched on the 8th of February, Latest LGBT+ TV promises to bring tailored news and television to the LGBT community of Brighton. Latest hope that the channel will “put LGBT people in homes” across the city, and eventually the country. With twenty-six proposed channels for the next year or so, Latest LGBT+ is just the first stepping stone towards an inclusive network. As Bill Smith, Latest CEO told us, “the revolution will be televised”. This revolution will hopefully spread nationally within a few years, so watch this space!
Whilst on television we have seen a marked improvement in LGBT representation. There’s probably a gay character in just about every soap now. But Latest still feel there is much progression still to come. While token characters in TV shows and perhaps the odd LGBT ‘celebrity’ appearance on a chat-show sofa might have reminded the greater population that the LGBT community is still very much alive and kicking, Latest LGBT+ hopes to do more than this.
Real LGBT issues for the wider community of Brighton, not just those who are LGBT. The channel is inclusive and diverse. Of course anyone can watch it! For those who haven’t encountered LGBT culture or individuals before, the channel will be an education. Latest LGBT+ is, as Bill Smith put it, ‘’trying to actually do diversity’’. He also commented that there is ‘’no difference’’ between LGBT individuals and the rest of the population; all we want is to be normalised and accepted.
Sophie Cook, one of the main presenters of the new channel, told us that in the past few years there has been a “rise in the issue of equal rights”, and that “LGBT rights need educating. We’re not outsiders”. This lack of education and rising intolerance has been a driving force for the TV channel. Not just as a safe space for LGBT people to find their media and culture, but also as an educational platform.
Issues such as coming out, safer sex, apps, the conflict between your beliefs and your identity. You’ll find it all here. It won’t all be straight-laced and serious. However; there are plans for light-hearted chat shows and even streams of documentaries and LGBT films.
Also at the channel’s launch was Brighton and Hove’s police Hate Crime Director, who told us that the TV channel will certainly help improve awareness and visibility of LGBT people, and their issues. He said “the more trans and LGB issues can be shown to the public with no barriers. The more exposure and the more education there will be for those interested in trans and LGB issues to improve the state of these individuals’ lives”.
With the launch of Latest LGBT+, “the revolution is coming”.
For the most recent updates on Latest LGBT + check out their Twitter page.