It was just under two years ago that Terry Van Mackelberg came out to family and friends.
It was an experience that changed his life, and eventually led him to his current role as host of the first LGBT+ talk show on the prairies.
“We try to make it fun so that they want to watch and then you can start talking about serious subjects that do affect our lives and the lives of our allies,” Prairie Pride host Van Mackelberg said.
While the idea had been in the works for some time, producers had been unable to find a suitable host to take on the role- until Terry entered the picture.
“Terry is Terry, you know?” Prairie Pride producer Spencer Burridge said. “He’s got this personality and he really brings the show together and puts his spin on it. I think that’s really what makes the show what it is now.”
Prairie Pride quickly jumped from a monthly show to a weekly. As it grew, the local LGBT+ community came together to design a proper set.
“When we first started, we had a blue background. Just blue curtains and two chairs,” Van Mackelberg recalled. “We needed to do something to come together and build a fabulous set because we want to represent the gay community as best as possible.”
Now the sizable set boasts a hot pink and black-striped background, rainbow decorations, and even a closet for the show’s guests to ‘come out’ of.
The duo aim to balance fun skits with serious topics, coupled with Van Mackelburg’s over-the-top drag persona/field reporter Flo Mingo and topical panel discussions.
“It might be the #MeToo movement or it might just be talking about what’s your favourite food,” Burridge explained. “Somehow, that always has a message to it. Somebody at home, we hope, is watching and learning it’s alright to drink a pink drink no matter what gender you are.”
Viewers have reached out from as far away as Montana- spreading a message Van Mackelberg wishes he heard much earlier in life.
“I’m a father of three amazing kids and they’re growing up knowing it doesn’t matter who you want to be,” Van Mackelberg said. “That’s something important to me because I grew up and lived my life as a straight man for 34 years- because I didn’t feel I could be who I wanted to.”
Providing a platform for his community, and a catchphrase to live by: be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons.
Prairie Pride airs Saturday nights at 11:00 pm on Access 7.