Univision’s long-running variety show Sábado Gigante is going off the air, leaving behind an admirable legacy of hosting candid conversations about the lives of gay people.
If you consider Sábado Gigante is seen by an estimated 100 millions viewers every week in 40 countries, across generations, those discussions were a big deal.
"A lot of us have to learn how to conduct the interviews, give it the correct treatment, accept this in our families,” Don Francisco, now 74, said in an interview in 2013. “We also need this to be accepted in our audience without them feeling offended,” Don Francisco said.
To be sure, not every one of Don Francisco’s segments championed the rights of LGBT people. On his midweek show that aired for a decade, Don Francisco Presenta, the host once interviewed an “ex-homosexual.” However, on that same show, he also conducted a progressive interview with transgender men.
Here are some of the most notable recent LGBT segments on Sabado Gigante.
The same year that a federal court ruled California’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, Don Francisco moderated a 15-minute debate on gay marriage. The debate also included a short interview with an audience member who was raised by two lesbians.
"The homophobia was the worst. I had a teacher in religion who told me that a heart surgery that I had was a result of me inheriting my mother's sin.” Ada Alvares told Don Francisco.
In 2011, Don Francisco had a 10-minute interview with David Gonzáles and Jaime López, Mexico's first same-sex couple to get married.
The interview included conversations about coming out and family rejection and how Gonzáles and López argued just like any other married couple. It included questions that likely challenged many viewers throughout Latin America.
“I came out of the closet at the age of 35 just because of the fear of coming out,” Gonzales told Don Francisco as he held his partner’s hand. “To start with, it’s difficult to face family rejection. [When people come out] there’s a lot of family rejection,” Gonzales went on to say.
Don Francisco took a powerful stance and said the rejection may be a result of family members not understanding sexual orientation.
“I think it’s difficult for the public, perhaps because they’re unfamiliar with the situation,” he said, noting that in the fifty years he had worked in television discussion about gay issues hadn’t been addressed until recently.
In 2013, Don Francisco interviewed Karina Hermosillo, an openly lesbian contestant on Univision's "Nuestra Belleza Latina," a beauty pageant competition.
“I was raised in a Mexican household that was very Catholic and I would tell myself that I had to get this out of my head,” Hermosillo told Don Francisco.
When Don Francisco asked viewers to send in their questions a woman wrote in to say Hermosillo displaying signs of affection to her partner “was out of place” during prime time television.
“I understand that if this is something new it can be something strong for you,” Hermosillo said on Sabado Gigante.
“But when someone doesn’t see their partner for a month the first thing you want to do is hug them, kiss them, hold them and that is a normal act.
The LGBT organization GLAAD recognized the segment with a nomination for GLAAD media award the following year.
Fusion is a joint venture of Univision and ABC.