By: Amber Leventry
Dr. Ken Schneck is the producer and host of This Show is So Gay, a popular weekly radio show which gives individuals an opportunity to use their voices in unique ways to make a difference. The idea came to him after watching an Independence Day Parade in Brattleboro, Vermont, which featured only a handful of fire trucks, one drag queen, and a few fliers about a local radio station. Schneck wondered, why have just a radio show when you can have a gay radio show? And why be just gay when you can be really gay?
Seven years and 320 shows later, Schneck has highlighted the work being done by LGBTQ individuals and allies. Stand-up comedians, chefs, musicians, activists and so many others have been interviewed by Schneck, who uses humor and authenticity to make his guests feel comfortable and to allow their words to make a difference.
When I asked Schneck if humor was a calculated piece of the show to help change people’s minds about the LGBTQ community, he said this: “I’m just a guy who is looking to find the fun in all of this. I never had an approach to talking about being gay other than my belief that it is both at the core of who I am and that it is one of the most fun aspects about me. When I first started out, I didn’t foresee anyone listening to the show other than a few friends and maybe my mom every now and then, so my style was to be authentic and normalize my LGBT identity in conversation as I do in my day-to-day life. Once the audience started growing, it was so important to me that I not change that style because it really is just who I am.”
He is also a busy man doing a lot of good. While This Show is So Gay will still continue with guests like Chana Rothman, a singer/songwriter who recorded an album of children’s music for gender non-conforming youth, Schneck is working on a new project called The Bully Pulpit.
Born from a conversation on his radio show, The Bully Pulpit will be a new web-series of six 10 minute shows featuring a bully and the person they bullied. The idea is to gain perspective, closure, and hopefully an apology. Schneck was very deliberate in his guidelines, however. The bullying had to have happened at least 10 years ago, and the focus of the conversation had to stay healthy and without confrontation.
Schneck, “We want the memories to be clear, but we don’t want the wounds to be fresh. The tone we’re going for is healthy and upbeat: these are folks who want to hear and provide some answers, but who also want to close an unclear chapter and move forward in their life’s text.”
I was curious and a bit pessimistic that many people would be up for this, but the responses to Schneck’s request to interview folks were overwhelming. Many people wanted the chance to be part of The Bully Pulpit, particularly the bully, who wanted the chance to explain him or herself to someone they treated poorly. There is a definite focus on LGBTQ bullying, but other topics come up too. All episodes will be available for free on YouTube, but not before funds are raised to film, edit, and produce the series. To help with expenses, Schneck started a Kickstarter campaign and hopes to gather enough money by the end of the month to put his project into full motion.
I asked Dr. Ken Schneck, who is also a college professor, what he has learned after so many years of teaching and providing others with the chance to do the same. I wanted to know what drives him to keep working on these shows. He said this, “Every single second I have ever spent on This Show is So Gay and, now, The Bully Pulpit has been confirming that our greatest asset is authenticity of voice, this idea that you really can make a difference in this world if speak out in your own true way. We all have the unique way of using our voice. I am appreciative each and every day that I have the opportunity to experience that great joy and all I want is for everyone around me to experience those moments wherever and whenever they can.”
To learn how to listen to This Show is So Gay, check out the website or the show’s Facebook page. And if you want to learn more about The Bully Pulpit or feel moved to contribute, go to the project’s Kickstarter campaign.