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WYOU donates tapes of LGBT show to Memorial Library

November 11, 2009 By Kiera Wiatrak

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Memorial Library will accept a gift of 800 videotapes from WYOU Community Television during a reception on Friday, Nov. 13.

The tapes capture nearly 20 years of the late David Runyon’s groundbreaking LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) show “Nothing to Hide.”

Runyon, a leader in the Madison LGBT community, created, produced and hosted “Nothing to Hide” from 1981 until his death in 2001, making it the longest running LGBT television show in the world in its time. The show ran during prime time on WYOU, which still airs reruns at 8 p.m. on Mondays.

WYOU volunteers and community representatives will carry the 25 boxes of tapes to the library in a procession across Capitol Square and along State Street.

They will be met at 5 p.m. by Memorial Library friends and staff and four prominent community speakers, including U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, state Rep. Spencer Black, UW–Madison General Library System director Ken Frazier and political activist and one-time WYOU board chair Richard Russell.

Speeches begin at 5:25 p.m. when officials of WYOU and the Memorial Library sign the gift agreement, making the collection the largest LGBT cable access video archive of its kind in a public repository in the nation. Local LGBT advocacy center, Outreach, will also donate the 50 tapes in their possession.

The library has agreed to preserve and digitize all of the original tapes to give access to scholars, students and community members.

“It’s very important for this collection to be preserved and made accessible to students and scholars,” says Frazier. “This area wasn’t well covered in the time this work was being created in our midst in our community, and there weren’t systematic efforts to preserve this record at the time. This is a great opportunity to add to a collection that’s becoming a strength for UW–Madison libraries.”

WYOU will also prepare DVD highlights of “Nothing to Hide.” The event is free and open to the public.

“Nothing to Hide” features panel discussions, local LGBT events, speeches and interviews with both local and national LGBT leaders. Social critics and political leaders such as Toni Morrison, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Jesse Jackson and Gaylord Nelson also appear on the show.

“What is most remarkable, I think, is the number of national figures or people who came to have national influence that turned up on the program,” Frazier says.

Often, “Nothing to Hide” features the only interviews with prominent Wisconsin LGBT figures and coverage of groundbreaking speeches and events that otherwise weren’t documented.

“For one thing it did bring together people who were leaders in the community, and that was extremely important,” Frazier says. “It was also a matter of being one of the few available public outlets for mass communication for the gay and lesbian community at the time.”