Toronto
3 min

We march in waves

Queer radio storms the Internet

TUNED IN. Radio on the Internet is an untold treat. Credit: Mia Hansen

If you thought the only use for your computer was cybersex and downloading porno, think again. Twenty-four-hour gay and lesbian radio has come to the ‘net in a big way.



If you live around Church St, of course, this may be no big deal; you just have to walk outside to fend off the stifling world of straight media. But if you are farther away, 24/7 gay radio is something you need – to keep your spirits high and your alienation low.



The gathering place for most, but not all, stations is www.live365.com (type “gay” in the genre selection box). There were 45 stations at last count – mostly loud, relentless techno and dance music. You have your choice of US, British, German, Brazilian, Spanish and even a station in South Korea.



In addition to music, DC Gay Scene has comedy. Recently, it seems to be running a short comedy loop over and over. I suspect it is in the middle of an upgrade. Gay.Teens.2000 Cyber Radio is frightening: The most intense non-stop techno dance music I have ever heard. I can’t imagine anyone having any energy left to “do” anything after dancing to that for very long.



The British stations seem to have more variety and are the most interesting of the dance stations. Try Gay FM, which originates from Liverpool’s GYRO (Gay Youth R Out), and Ibhradio Live: The Scene.



Foreign language stations seem to play mostly English language music, so the gay content is during the talk breaks.



For my tastes, by far, the hottest and best site is www.cowboykkub.com. This is the voice of the Lesbian And Gay Country Music Association. The site offers several stations choices. (Beware, two of them, KTRK: Truckin’ Country and WMIH, are straight, and are offered as a kind of gesture to inclusiveness.)



All stations of the network are produced by Alan Hudson Broadcasting from Rainbow Ranch in Washington State near the mythical town of TDVille, USA. The mayor of TDVille is a teddy bear named TD, whose picture appears on the website.

The cowboykkub station I gravitate to is KTSO in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The “commercials” are great; my favourite is the pickup truck that comes complete with a beer cooler, can crusher and open bottle launcher.



The music ranges from well-crafted traditional country edging on bluegrass and very moving love ballads, to upbeat happy music and Zydeco – all with gay lyrics. A fair bit of the women’s music is in Cajun French, and there’s an occasional song in Spanish.



Unlike dance music, country and folk have lyrics and allow the artist to say something. They sing about real people and real situations, of love lost and love found, and songs of realization that for many gay people there is no going back home.



Hurtin’ songs are balanced by songs of joy and freedom. No gay-as-victim stuff: The music, even the sad songs, is a celebration of gayness, not an apology.



Men talk to other men in intimate situations, and sing about it, using much different language than they do when talking to women – the same for women talking to other women. And you might be very surprised to check out the effect on your head when you don’t have to change “she” to “he,” or vice versa, or have to twist “you” into something the singer obviously did not intend.



Producer Alan Hudson wants to keep building the Cowboykkub network. “I hope to add more affiliates who are willing to invest the time setting up a live365.com station, do their own promos, have their own style, have fun and not be for profit.”



(Techies, check out live365.com’s facilities for setting up your own broadcasting stations using its free setup.)



Any chance of expanding into Canada? “Yes indeed,” says Hudson, “particularly if you know of anyone who is interested in setting up a live 365.com broadcast. Otherwise we’ll do it on this end and base it from a small town, most likely somewhere in British Columbia or Manitoba.”



Kubradio.com will lead you to the LGCMA site, which will tell you how to order its members’ CDs. Until someone starts putting pressure on music stores in Canada, you have to special order. The LGCMA can be reached directly at www.lgcma.com, and has a good, informative website with photos and song samples. The two groups that really stand out for me are Doug Stevens And The Outband and Mark Weigle.



The third 24/7 gay site is www.trianglebroadcasting.com. This is a white bread AM type station with straight music but gay talk by the DJ. The news featured follows items of interest such as gaybashing trials, and other human rights issues affecting gays and lesbians.



Occasionally they play campy music like “You’re The Cream In My Coffee” or “If I’m The Bottom You’re The Top.” The station is slick, professional, but perhaps a bit soulless. It is worth checking out, however.



It might be fun to have on when mum and dad come to visit: top 40 tunes, then a sudden fast gay rap from the DJ which will leave them wondering if what they just heard was real. Also, you’ll be dazzled by how many versions there are of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”