Out in TV & Movies

SPECIAL NOTE: Today I am ending my ‘Gay Video of the Week’ series. I will continue to post similar content and videos but no longer on a steady weekly basis. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. In the future, look for this and similar posts in a new category ‘LGBT RIGHTS’ which I’ll start up soon.

All month Gay Video of the Week has focused on coming out in recognition of “National Coming Out Day” which is October 11 each year. This final Saturday of the month I look at coming out on TV and in movies, both real life and fictional.

That Was Then…

That Certain Summer

In 1972, ABC aired a groundbreaking made-for-TV film, That Certain Summer, starring Hal Holbrook as the gay father for Scott Jacoby. Martin Sheen played Holbrook’s lover. I can’t find any clips of the film but these two interviews look back.

The first interview is with William Link, one of the screenwriters. The story was subsequently made into a novel by Burton Wohl.

In this interview, Hal Holbrook talks about the film. Initially wasn’t going to take the role but he reconsidered at the urging of his wife.

Lance Loud & An American Family

Jumping from fiction to real life, in 1973 PBS aired a controversial series about the Louds, An American Family, shot cinema verite — pioneering today’s all-too-common reality TV. Cameras followed the family in public and private for seven months. All this footage was edited down to 12 one-hour episodes that ended up documenting the parents’ separation and later divorce, and their son Lance’s coming out. This was heady stuff for 1973!

The first video is a compilation focused on Lance himself, and a lengthy discussion his father had with a friend about Lance’s lifestyle.

In this video, Lance’s mother is visiting him in New York City. They never really talk about him being “gay,” per se but it’s the subtext to their discussion and his struggle.

Lance made several appearances on The Dick Cavett Show after the series ended. This was his last appearance before he died in 2001 of liver failure. He had HIV and Hepatitis-C.


Family was a series that ran on ABC from 1976 to 1980. This scene looks at the son’s struggle (Willie, played by Gary Frank) after his friend Zeke had come out. The father is played by James Broderick.

The Ellen Show

Fast-forward 20 years to 1997 and things were better — a little. Ellen DeGeneres came out in this famous scene on her sitcom, The Ellen Show. Even then there was backlash with some advertisers pulling out and a bomb threat to the studio. The series was cancelled a year later.

Ellen spoke with Oprah Winfrey afterward in 1997, talking about the show, her own sexuality, and the reaction — which included her parents asking her to move out of their house.

…And This is Now

It Gets Better!

Time and society have marched forward since those early days and things have gotten much better. These next two videos look how contemporary TV and movies are handling gay storylines and coming out.

The Talent Shows

I’ll close with a few notable coming out performances on the popular TV talents shows like America’s Got Talent. There are counterparts to AGT in many countries. This first endearing performance was on Italy’s Italia’s Got Talent by dancers ‘You & Me.’

Jonathan Allen appeared on America’s Got Talent.

Brian Justin Crum delivered a jaw-dropping rendition of “I’m a Creep” on AGT.

Title image: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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