On this date LANCE LOUD came out on the PBS “series” An American Family. He bears the distinction of being the first person to come out on US national television. It was an ground-shaking coming out story at the time.
Loud’s fame came with a documentary of his family’s life, which was broadcast in the U.S. on PBS in 1973, drawing 10 million viewers and causing considerable controversy. The show was based in Santa Barbara, California.
After the series, Loud moved to New York City, driven by his obsession with The Velvet Underground and the Warhol scene. He became a regular at Max’s Kansas City and attended Charles Ludlam productions at La Mama, with Warhol luminaries such as Jackie Curtis (who later became a close Loud family friend) and Holly Woodlawn. Shortly after the series ended, Loud appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, performing with a working version of what would later become the band “Mumps” (which at that point included his siblings Delilah, Michelle and Kevin in the line-up), under the name “Loud”. He stated at the time that he thought the filmmakers had intentionally edited the series to make him seem obnoxious and grating.
Loud became a gay icon by having his homosexuality revealed to a national audience during the course of the documentary. His sexual orientation became a topic of national controversy and media scrutiny after several appearances on Dick Cavett and other talk shows, but the positive and grateful feedback from the Gay community led Loud to embrace this role with passion and flamboyant, often self-deprecating wit.
In 2001, Loud entered hospice inLos Angeles, suffering from HIV and Hepatitis C. Realizing he was dying, Loud called the Raymonds back to film again, expressing dissatisfaction with the way An American Family ended and how the family members were portrayed in it. His wish was that the Louds be portrayed as the family Loud knew them to be. While in hospice care, he wrote his final article, “Musings on Mortality”. On December 22, 2001, Lance Loud died of liver failure as a result of hepatitis C and a co-infection with HIV. He was 50 years old