Temple University Television (TUTV) is the home of Queer Temple, the first LGBTQ-centered series featured on the station. The show was started by junior communication studies student Andreas Copes and Christopher Smith, a sophomore majoring in communication and social influence. Despite changes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Queer Temple team has remained focused on their mission of queer representation and recognition in media.
Queer Temple is the product of similar visions that came together as one. Last spring, Smith discussed creating an original LGBTQ series for TUTV and worked on developing the show with Amy Caples, assistant professor of instruction in the Media Studies and Production Department. From there, he pitched the idea to Paul Gluck, general manager of TUTV, and Ed Dress, TUTV content producer, who accepted the idea. However, when social distancing regulations were put into place, the budding series was not yet in a position to grow.
That is until Copes, a transfer student to Temple from the Community College of Philadelphia, signaled his interest in starting a similar series. Copes, who hosted two seasons of Focal Point, a magazine show about the community college on its station CCPTV, was excited to jump headfirst into media production with TUTV. He even reached out to Smith before he transferred to Temple to discuss the show.
In the fall, Gluck and Dress paired up Smith and Copes. Although they did not get to set up shop in the studio, they worked together virtually to determine what direction the show would take. With Copes as the host and a co-producer and Smith as another co-producer, they aimed to cover current events, history and life in the queer community. But mostly, they wanted to ensure that the queer community was shown in a respectful but honest light.
"What we want to do with the show, and why I think it's so important and meaningful...is that we want to change the narrative. We also want to change how people see queer people stereotypically," Copes says.
But putting together the series remotely does not come without its own set of challenges, with Copes noting that when he records his content for the show "I am the camera person, I am the light person, the audio person".
Anna Rodefeld, a junior in the Media Studies and Production Department, is another co-producer for the series this semester. Before producing, she was an editor who helped bring the show's pilot episode, which focused on entrepreneurship and representation, into fruition.
"TUTV has a lot of really diverse shows and I think they're all awesome and I think it's great that there's now a show for queer people as well to tell queer stories," Rodefeld says. "And uplifting queer stories too, because a lot of professional queer media tends to be kind of a downer. So it's nice to be a part of it and make queer media and media that I think matters."
The Queer Temple team, which has expanded to include other students, is satisfied with the results of their combined efforts, with Smith commenting "It honestly came out a lot better than I thought any Zoom interview kind of production could have gone; so I'm very, very pleased with that."
But most of all, the producers are excited that the series is, as Rodefeld points out, "for queer students, made by queer students."
Copes agrees, and his involvement in other media organizations such as the Philadelphia chapter of NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists highlights his stance. The chapter recently hosted a panel of journalists and non-profit leaders discussing the impact of the recent presidential election on LGBTQ people. He says that his responsibilities as vice president of the chapter and host of Queer Temple are similar: "We are a watchdog for queer media, we create a safe space, and we connect the queer community."
Smith is excited that TUTV took such a meaningful step but acknowledges that it was not without the hard work of the team's original idea.
"Being able to be given the platform that TUTV has given us is something that's really, really honorable," he says. "And what we're doing with that platform is just as honorable as well."
Queer Temple is slated to air two more episodes this semester and is expected to air three episodes in the fall. The team at the series is grateful for its positive reception and is open to more involvement from other students. For more information, you can email the team at email@example.com and follow Queer Temple on Instagram.