Brad Theissen's Papers and Records of GAZE-TV and GAZE Newspaper
Scope and Contents
This collection documents the personal life and professional endeavors of Brad Theissen, who ran a multitude of Twin Cities-based publications and shows providing news, information, and entertainment for LGBT communities. The majority of the collection’s material, the bulk of which spans the mid-1980s to mid-2000s, is geographically rooted in Minnesota--though it also contains episodes of public access cable TV shows airing elsewhere in the country, as well as footage and news reporting related to LGBT issues that is national in scope. The collection is primarily divided into two distinct categories: digitized materials and physical materials. The digitized materials comprise episodes of GAZE-TV (later known as Green And Yellow TV and GLBT-TV), MomentuM TV, One in 10 People, HIV Update, and others, alongside raw footage of GAZE-TV content, and one-off episodes or clip compilations from several other public access cable TV shows ranging from Madison, Wisconsin to San Francisco, California. The physical materials comprise runs of Theissen’s publications including Twin Cities GAZE Newspaper, GAZE Magazine, GAZE Guide, and GAZE USA, as well as behind-the-scenes materials related to the production of both Theissen’s publications and shows such as GAZE-TV and GAZE Radio--scripts, photographs, layouts, correspondence, and original artwork. Finally, the collection also contains personal biographical materials related to Brad Theissen’s life and family history, including a book, photographs, and genealogical printouts.
- 1986 - 2005
Language of Materials
Biographical / Historical
Brad Theissen (1950 - ) is a publisher, reporter, producer, and DJ whose Twin Cities roots run deep. Head DJ at Minneapolis’s iconic nightclub The Gay 90s for ten years (1981-1991), Theissen also published a broad range of media across radio, television, and print formats aimed at providing news, entertainment, resources, and community access for LGBT people in the Twin Cities and beyond. Theissen hit the airwaves in 1986 with the premiere of GAZE Magazine’s on-screen companion, GAZE-TV, a weekly public access cable TV program that served not only as a source of connection for LGBT Twin Citians, but also as “a formal source of health education and information on the AIDS health crisis.” GAZE-TV aired in the Twin Cities as well as a multitude of channels in the surrounding metro area suburbs, and eventually expanded to serve the Twin Ports area of Duluth/Superior. Over the decades, Theissen’s GAZE-branded media umbrella grew to include many publications and shows, including GAZE Radio and GAZE-TV, as well as the print publications GAZE Magazine/Twin Cities GAZE Newspaper, GAZE Guide, and GAZE USA.
GAZE-TV was a collaborative project that not only engaged a wide range of reporting content and viewers, but also was produced via the hands of many people who viewed the show as a labor of love. In addition to Theissen as the show’s stalwart host, many others contributed as field producers, camera operators, graphic designers, or segment hosts. And of course, one can’t forget the show’s beloved mascots: Lady Lydia the bulldog, and Green And Yellow TV’s iconic Mr. Kitty. As for the content of the show itself, GAZE-TV took on an everything-AND-the-kitchen-sink attitude, with on-the-ground event footage and interviews engaging everything from HIV/AIDS to drag balls to city council elections.
GAZE-TV began with a half an hour weekly slot, which transitioned into an hour-long program in the 1990s. As the show gained prominence in the world of public access cable, the slot expanded to 90 minutes--the first hour was dedicated to GAZE-TV, while the last half hour was reserved for national public access shows such as MomentuM TV and One in 10 People. This combination allowed viewers to gain access to local events and news, while also remaining apprised of LGBT conversations that transcended state borders. The presence of these additional television programs within Theissen’s VHS collection represents the connections Theissen forged with other LGBT media projects across the nation.
When Theissen sold Twin Cities GAZE Newspaper in 1992, it necessitated a name change in the television show. After consulting with historian Jean-Nickolaus Tretter, Theissen settled on Green And Yellow TV as GAZE-TV’s successor, named for a 1950s catchphrase with double meaning--Green And Yellow, after all, formed the acronym G.A.Y., and stemmed from an old tradition of wearing green clothing on Thursdays as an underground signifier of homosexuality for those in the know. Green And Yellow TV ran until Pride season 1995. The program underwent one final name change when it returned briefly as GLBT-TV from 2002-2004 after Theissen relocated to California.
3 Linear Feet
This collection documents the personal life and professional endeavors of Brad Theissen, who ran a multitude of Twin Cities-based publications and shows providing news, information, and entertainment for LGBT communities. Highlighted media in this collection spans the 1980s to 2000s, and includes materials related to titles such as GAZE-TV (later known as Green And Yellow TV and then GLBT-TV), GAZE Newspaper, GAZE Guide, and GAZE Radio. While the collection maintains a strong focus on Minnesota, it is also national in scope.
The materials in this collection are arranged into the following series:
Series 1: Digitized GAZE-TV Episodes and Related Public Access TV Materials
Series 2: GAZE Publications and Shows - Physical Materials
Series 3: Personal Biographical Materials
Throughout its lengthy run, GAZE-TV spanned several decades of LGBT history that were both tumultuous and fraught as well as joyous and celebratory. Some key subjects of interest include the following:
-AIDS prevention, safety, research, resources and awareness - fundraisers for Minnesota-based AIDS organizations, the 1990s-era Pledge Walks for AIDS sponsored by the Minnesota AIDS Project, updates on cutting edge medical information and research, and educational information on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment (including the promotion of safer sex practices)
-The relationship of LGBT communities with the police, including the response (or lack thereof) of law enforcement to increases in anti-gay bashing and homophobic violence; on the flipside, the show also highlighted community-based anti-violence protests, initiatives, and organizations that imagined and provided safety alternatives
-Arts, entertainment, and cultural production, including Brad the DJ’s Gay Music Video Library, Lori Dokken’s “Entertainment Bits” segment on local theater (especially Unicorn Theatre) and performance events, gallery exhibitions, LGBT choruses and bands, events hosted by local gay bars (The Gay 90s, The Saloon, Rumors, Cloud Nine), Jenni Olson’s segments on LGBT representation on film, and more
-Politics - GAZE-TV followed local Minnesota LGBT policy initiatives, legislation, and elections (city-level human rights ordinances, domestic partner ordinances, city council meetings), as well as national scope politics including the National Marches on Washington in 1987 and 1993
-Activism, including nonprofit organizing, youth activism and youth educators, campus organizing, protests (many involving ACT UP)
-Race relations within and without the LGBT community, including footage of events by and for LGBT people of color (from organizations such as Minnesota Men of Color and Native American dance troupe the Two Spirited Thunder People, and various theater productions - highlights include interviews with Ojibwe political activist and spiritual leader Larry Cloud Morgan; two spirit activist and theater-maker Anguksuar/Richard LaFortune; and mixed Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota artist, storyteller, and videographer Mona Smith), as well as tensions between white gays and people of color
-Disability justice, including discussion of LGBT struggles with the medical industrial complex during the AIDS crisis, Karen Thompson’s successful battle for legal guardianship of her disabled partner Sharon Kowalski, showcases of work by and for disabled artists and community members, and footage of accessibility measures such as ASL interpretation during various community events
-Religion and sexuality, including footage of LGBT friendly services at Metropolitan Community Church, advice from affirming pastors on how to answer the religious right, and a host of community events for Jewish and Christian LGBT folks
-Local LGBT sports leagues, including softball, volleyball, basketball, and bowling
-The evolution of Pride festivals (Twin Cities Pride and others)
-Public service announcements (PSAs) - In its day, GAZE-TV had of the largest collections of LGBT-related PSAs in the country, spanning HIV/AIDS awareness, mental health, anti-hate, voting rights, and LGBT acceptance
- Brad Theissen's Papers and records of GAZE-TV and GAZE Newspaper
- Eliza Edwards
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