Decades before Matt Bomer, Neil Patrick Harris, and Zachary Quinto there was a young man named Lance Loud who brought gay awareness, lifestyle and culture to millions of homes across America at a time when it was unheard of.
On January 15, 1973 Lance Loud came out on the PBS “series” An American Family. He was the first person to come out on national television.
Am American Family was a 12-episode Cinéma vérité reality documentary series broadcast in 1973 on PBS. The directors, Alan and Susan Raymond, were the first to install cameras into a real-life situation. They documented hundreds of hours of the lives of the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California. During the course of the filming, the marriage of Bill and Pat Loud imploded, they separated, and Pat filed for divorce. The documentary became a real-life soap opera and the progenitor of ”reality television,” in which private lives were captured for a national audience.
An American Family also delved into the lives of the Loud children, Delilah and Michele and brothers Kevin, Grant and oldest son Lance.
Lance was the first openly gay person depicted on television, and was shocking to an audience that had rarely witnessed frank portrayals of homosexuality on television. Lances scenes were of his true self, wearing blue lipstick, moving to the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, and introducing his mother to the gay underground music and art world of transvestites, hustlers and types of gritty New Yorker’s that were never seen on television before and made an American Family a groundbreaking series first. (In 2001 Pat Loud stating that the family were all probably aware of Lance’s sexual orientation beforehand. )
After the show ended Lance remained in New York for 10 years living in a Lower East Side apartment writing for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine and performing in a semi-successful rock band called the Mumps.
This past weekend at Nashville Pride Vanessa Carlton followed in the footsteps of female celebs like Lady Gaga, Anna Paquin, and Megan Mullally and came out as bisexual. Congrats! But why is this well-intentioned announcement always made by ladies? Aren’t there any bi guys?
Bisexual women are especially powerful because people don’t really care if a female has fluid sexuality. In fact, most straight guys would actually prefer imagining that Anna Paquin will not only sleep with them, but will bring her best girlfriend over for a three-way. Yes, there is nothing icky about lady-on-lady action. This is not true in the hetro world with male-on-male loving,.
It’s a horrible double standard and it’s one I think we should end. How? Well, we need some famous dudes to come out as bi and be LOUD and PROUD! We know you’re out there, guys. And even if you’re not, can’t you pull a Gaga and just pretend for the sake of the cause? Thanks!
Thomas Dekker (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street”) has signed on to HBO Films’ “Cinema Verite,” a behind-the-scenes look at the 1973 groundbreaking documentary “An American Family,” Dekker, who will play Lance Loud, joins Tim Robbins, Diane Lane and James Gandolfini. Robbins and Lane will play his parents, Bill and Pat Loud, while Gandolfini has the role of “American Family” producer Craig Gilbert.
In 1971, Gilbert and his crew shot more than 300 hours of 16mm color film of Santa Barbara couple Bill and Pat Loud and their five children. After over a year of editing, the 12-hour documentary series aired on PBS in 1973.
Lance, 20 at the time, was openly gay, and the series depicted his life in New York City. As the first out character on television, he created national controversy and became an early LGBT icon.
Following the show’s airing, Lance returned to New York, where we was befriended by Andy Warhol and played in a punk band. He later moved to Los Angeles and worked as a journalist. For decades, he struggled with a drug problem and the hollowness of the fame that was foisted upon him at such a formative age. In 2001, at the age of 50, Lance died from liver failure, brought on by a coinfection of HIV and hepatitis C. A few months before his death, Lance asked two of the series’ original filmmakers, Alan and Susan Raymond, to film a final episode of his family’s story. The entire Loud family, save for one brother, agreed to participate in “Lance Loud! A Death in An American Family.”
Watch this 1973 Dick Cavett interview with Lance Loud.