PBS Celebrates 'Pride Month' With Series on LGBTQ+ Identity in the South, 'Prideland'

By Michael W. Chapman | May 15, 2020 | 12:35pm EDT
(Screenshot)
(Screenshot)

(CNSNewes.com) -- The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which coordinates distribution of content among some 1,500 public television stations nationwide, is introducing a series in June to celebrate "Pride Month" that will examine LGBTQ+ life in the southern United States. 

The series, produced by the company Tiny Horses, is six, one-hour episodes, and includes a final one-hour special, "Prideland." The first show is entitled, "Out, Proud & Southern: Dyllon Burnside's Story," and episode three is entitled, "Polyamory, Demisexuality, and Being Transgender in the South."

(Screenshot, PBS)
(Screenshot, PBS)

The series will be shown on PBS Voices, a YouTube PBS channel created by PBS Digital Studios

"PBS is celebrating LGTBQ+ Pride Month with the launch of PRIDELAND, a new one-hour special and short-form digital series following host and actor Dyllón Burnside (from FX’s 'Pose') on a journey across the South," said PBS in a statement

"PRIDELAND, produced by Tiny Horse, opens a window into the world of modern-day LGBTQ+ life in America," said PBS.  "The series highlights authentic personal stories brought to life through Burnside’s curious, exploratory lens."

(Screenshot, YouTube, PBS)
(Screenshot, YouTube, PBS)

"As an LGBTQ+ advocate, he guides viewers into the South’s various LGBTQ+ communities, connecting with people of different backgrounds, locations, experiences and points of view," said the publicly funded television organization.

“Being a queer boy raised in the South, I had distinct memories of feeling like I could never be my authentic-self there, so I left seeking acceptance and affirming communities," said Burnside.

"But I never left my southern roots,” he said. “I wanted to go back as an adult and see if things had changed, and I’m proud to report that they have. Although there are still many challenges for queer folks in the south, which is home to more LGBTQ+ adults than anywhere else in the U.S., I’m in awe of everyone I met who are creating change in their communities. I believe that authenticity is a superpower, and these queer heroes and allies are truly inspirational.”    

(Screenshot, YouTube, PBS)
(Screenshot, YouTube, PBS)

Brandon Arolfo, head of PBS Digital Studios, said, LGBTQ+ culture has always been a part of the American story, but a lack of understanding and representation still exists in many regions of the country."

“With the launch of PRIDELAND on PBS Voices, PBS is excited to travel into the heart of America to see first-hand how the United States is changing from within, and how so many LGBTQ+ people and their allies are working to ensure they can live their lives with pride," said Arolfo. 

“PBS is committed to bringing important, forward-thinking programs like PRIDELAND to Americans across multiple platforms,” said Pamela A. Aguilar, Executive in Charge and Senior Director, Programming & Development at PBS.

(Screenshot, YouTube, PBS)
(Screenshot, YouTube, PBS)

In Episode 1: "Out, Proud & Southern: Dyllon Burnside's Story," PBS explains that Burnside explores "what the South means to him, and why he left after getting fired from his church for coming out. ... He also learns that the region has the most negative LGBTQ+ policies in the country and meets different people fighting for equal rights...."

In Episode 3, "Polyamory, Demisexuality, and Being Transgender in the South," Burnside chats with a "group of diverse LGBTQ+ members to learn how to embrace sex positivity and maneuver the modern dating scene. They talk candidly about asexuality, polyamorous relationships and how to manage diverging expectations in the queer community."

Episode 4 is the "Heartwarming Story of One of Alabama's First Same-Sex Adoptions," and Episode 6 looks at "The Bakery Battleground: The Mississippi Baker Standing Up for Gay Rights."

(Screenshot, YouTube, PBS)
(Screenshot, YouTube, PBS)

Commenting on the series, the conservative American Family Association (AFA) said, "PBS's decision to partner with Burnside to push the homosexual agenda is an unjust attack on Christianity and a mockery of the Bible and God's design for human sexuality."

"Sadly, PBS is proudly promoting a lifestyle that is unhealthy to both the individual who participates in the unnatural sexual behavior and to society as a whole," said the AFA. 

The group also denounced the public funding allocated to PBS, which "means you and I are directly paying for PBS to insult our faith and scoff at our God."

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Explaining how the funding works, a CPB spokesman told CNSNews that in FY2019, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) received $445,000,000 from the federal government. The CPB, which is a separate organization from PBS, is responsible for distributing those funds, about $300,000,000 of which went to 1,500 public television and radio stations nationwide through grants.

For instance, a station in Arlington, Va., received a CPB grant of $29,243,900 in 2019 to purchase/lease public television programming. 

That Arlington station, along with hundreds of others nationwide, then worked with PBS, which helped them to obtain content and distribute it. For instance, PBS coordinates the distribution of NewsHour and Frontline and Nature

According to PBS, with "more than 330 member stations," it "offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 126 million people through television and 26 million people online.... Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life."

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