Connecting to people and the LGBTQ community one step at a time
By Hawwii Gudeta
Proud FM 103.9 in Toronto is the world’s first LGBTQ radio station.
It was founded seven years ago by Bill Evanov founder Evanov Broadcasting who believed the world needed a radio station that portrayed LGBTQ culture. Evanov was able to get a license from the Canadian Radio and Television Commission.
One of the station’s most popular shows is the “Mike Chalut Show”. It runs from 3pm to 7:00 pm every day. The show plays music from all types of genres pop music however is the most requested by fans. Chalut’s vibrant personality allows fans to feel comfortable to engage in any type of conversation.
“I believe Proud FM provides a platform for everyone to have an open conversation about anything because we are a commercial radio station,” Chalut.; “Everyone has the opportunity to be educated about the LGBTQ community.”.
One of the things Chalut noticed while working at the station was the amount of ridicule and harassment LGBTQ people still face, even on-air.
“As a host, bullying does not stop,” he says. “I get bashed every day and I have people writing e-mails to me all the time telling me to get off the air.”
Proud FM strongly advocates for equality and acceptance among the LGBTQ community.
“We are committed to playing music by artists who are openly gay; people submit their music all the time,” Chalut says. “Our program director is very active with trying to get people of the community a platform for them to shine on
The station has also helped people around the world feel more comfortable with their sexuality identity
“I had someone write to me from Brazil and say ‘I can’t come out to my own family, but listening to your radio station online really makes me feel like I belong to a family of people out there that are just like me,’” Chalut said.
Cathy Petch is a bisexual musician and poet who has experienced discrimination as a LGBTQ artist. She was told one time that she could not perform at a bar because of her sexual identity.
“A lot of the time I think people outside the LGBTQ community marginalize openly gay artists,” says Petch “they think we only want to talk about being gay and coming out, when in reality we just want to express our music,” Petch says.
Proud FM embraces open discussions on air in regards to educating people about different sexual identities; Chalut believes this is important for artists and allies of the LGBTQ community. Jelly Too Fly is lesbian hip hop artist from Toronto who believes your sexual orientation should not determine your ability as an artist.
“Coming from a city like Toronto you got to put in a lot of work you’ve got to stand out,” says Jelly. “Show why you’re different than everyone else and once you stand out you must keep that momentum going it’s up to you got to continue that drive,” Jelly said.
If you are interested in becoming a member of Proud FM you can simply apply online at www.proudfm.com; the radio station has giveaways, contests and event listings that all you can take part in. So in the words of Mike Chalut remember to always “love your guts!”