Book cover - ''Alternate Channels''

20th Anniversary Revised Edition (2020)

Alternate Channels explores the fight for lesbian and gay visibility on 20th-century American television, as gay activists faced off with powerful, often vicious “traditional values” crusaders, with TV executives caught in the crossfire.

It documents countless programs, characters, and political skirmishes, examining lesbian and gay portrayals and the few pioneering depictions of bisexual and trans people.

The first edition was a semifinalist for what is now the Stonewall Book Award and has been widely used in universities. This revised edition, fact-checked from scratch, reinstates material that the original publisher cut and adds about 100 photos of TV shows from the early days to the year 2000.

The author built this account of events from archival materials, a thousand broadcast recordings, and his interviews with showrunners, network and studio executives, and early activists.

Praise for the first edition

“A groundbreaking, long-overdue exploration of pop culture’s most popular medium and how it has reflected us . . . Alternate Channels has a breezy, engaging quality which makes the pages fly by.”

–Boston Bay Windows

“What makes the book terrific [is] his detailed accounts of little-known campaigns against queer defamation . . . Capsuto has done his homework.” 

— San Francisco Frontiers

“Capsuto is a dead-on analyst of trends and political patterns, championing the many people who have fought to bring gay lives and stories into our living rooms.”

— Brill’s Content

The first edition has been widely used in college courses, is cited extensively by other scholars, and was a semifinalist for what is now the Stonewall Book Award.