Nothing to Hide Episode Spotlight: 1997 Good Guys Bad Guys Awards

October 11, 2022 By Jean Chrysanthemum, Nothing to Hide Project Assistant

Nothing to Hide was a community access television program focusing on LGBTQ+ issues produced by David Runyon that ran on WYOU in Madison from 1981-2001. One of the longest-running LGBTQ+-centered televisions shows in the nation, the episodes are an invaluable resource documenting Madison’s rich LGBTQ+ history. The tapes were donated to the UW Archives and they are currently being digitized and described. The end goal of the project is to make the collection of more than 700 episodes available to the public.

Today’s spotlight episode records an awards ceremony with rather unique trophies put on by SAGE Dane, an organization dedicated to serving LGBT elders. The awards recognize or reprimand those that have had “a significant impact on the LGBT community during 1996,” for good or ill. The “Good Guys” each received a glass prism. As for the “Bad Guys,” while the Lesbian Avengers were eager to physically deliver, so to speak, the awards, Dave Runyon provided an alternative courtesy of a farmer in Whitewater. The awards took the form of cow pies that had been left to dry, primed with white paint and then covered in bright red, which were sent by Fed-Ex to their respective recipients, none of whom came to receive their award in-person.

1996 SAGE Good Guys:

Tammy Baldwin

Presented to then Wisconsin State Assembly Representative Tammy Baldwin for the creation of Action Wisconsin and opposition to a bill that would explicitly ban gay marriage in Wisconsin.

David Wilcox

For his advocacy on getting to University of Wisconsn to extend healthcare insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partnerships.

Teachers of Hawthorne Elementary School

For creating a library display showing photographs of families, some of them with same-sex couples, and keeping the display up despite criticism from some parents.

City Council Member Michael Verveer

Presented to Alderman Michael Verveer, who continues to serve on the City Council, For tireless advocacy on both LGBT and other progressive issues at the municipal level.

1996 SAGE Bad Guys: 

Madison School District Superintendent Cheryl Wilhoyte

For ignoring bullying in general and of gay students in particular and shifting both the responsibility and blame to individual school principals, without taking any action herself.

District Judge John C. Shabaz

Presented to John Shabaz, former Republican legislator appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan, for a string of decisions including a ruling against the Womens’ Transit Authority and a summary judgment against Jamie Nabozny, a former Ashland High School student suing the school for failing to take any action over a period of four years against those bullying him for being gay. (Nabozny went on to win the case on appeal in the historic Nabozny v. Podlesny case).

Wisconsin American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

Presented to the Wisconsin chapter of the nationwide labor union for endorsing the opponent of Dick Wagner, a gay man running for the office of Dane County Executive, because of Wagner’s sexuality.

American Family Association

Presented to the Texas-based organization for campaigning Wendy’s and General Motors to drop their sponsorships of TV talk show host Ellen after she came out as lesbian.

Episode citation:

Political Effectiveness: Fruit Parody Awards [series episode]. 20 April 1997. In David Runyon (Producer), Nothing to Hide. Nothing to Hide collection, uac72, Box 12, Tape no. 375, NothingToHidePrj.0246. University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives, Madison, WI.