The first openly gay person on a television series was Lance Loud, An American Family‘s break-out star. But a decade before that, on Sept. 11, 1961, a documentary aired on television that first introduced its viewers to openly gay people: The Rejected.
KQED produced the hour-long film for WNET’s predecessor–and WNET later produced An American Family. It starts with Margaret Mead discussing sexual orientation and three gay men answering questions, such as about women making gay men straight. A scene shot at a San Francisco gay bar, the Black Cat Bar, was ultimately cut before broadcast.
In a report about the film’s recent discovery and restoration, KQED notes that the film “has Twilight-Zone-esque music and some of the discourse about homosexuality is painful to hear.” But it also includes gay men arguing for equal rights 54 years ago.
You can watch the entire hour-long film online, free, thanks to the Bay Area TV Archive.