Lance Loud Was Gay On Reality TV Way Before Most People Wanted To See Gays On Reality TV

Forty years ago, producer Craig Gilbert and filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond brought cameras into the Santa Barbara home of the Loud family. They filmed Pat and Bill Loud and their five children—Lance, Delilah, Grant, Kevin and Michele—for seven months. Then, on January 11, 1973, An American Family hit American TV screens and caused a bit of a ruckus. (see the above video for a groovy 1970s-outfits-intensive interview with the kids on The Dick Cavett Show)

Over the course of the 12 weeks An American Family aired, Pat and Bill Loud separated and began their divorce. Even more controversially, their son Lance came bursting out of the closet with a brash confidence that more than lived up to his surname. It was the first example of what would eventually come to be known as reality television and audiences got simultaneously hooked and freaked out. In 2002, TV Guide called the series one of the 50 Greatest Shows Of All Time.

Now, almost ten years after the death of Lance Loud, the filmmakers have edited a new two-hour feature-length special of the show’s most memorable moments, An American Family: Anniversary Edition. It premieres this coming Thursday, July 7 on PBS stations. Check local listings and see what it was like when the idea of homosexuals simply existing in public without apology was considered shocking. Seriously, this fearless guy made history. Set your DVR now.