In Lance Out Loud, family and friends recall Lance Loud, the young man who made history as the first openly gay man to appear on network television.
On page 121, Delilah Loud recalls a brother who walked to the beat of a different drum. Delilah, and other family members, was with Lance on the night he died of AIDS in 2001. “I looked up through my tears to see a giant shooting star careening horizontally across the sky, a fantastic and sparkly celestial body in the beautiful starry night,” Delilah wrote.
“What Delilah wrote about Lance dying was one of the most touching things I read,” said mom Pat Loud. “We didn’t want the book to be sad; we wanted it to be about Lance’s ebullience.”
Viewers first met the Loud Family in 1973, when PBS premiered An American Family, television’s first reality series. For seven months, the Louds permitted cameras to record their day-to-day existence. It was the show’s second episode which drew the most attention: Pat flies to New York to visit then twenty-one-year-old Lance, who took his mother to see a performance by the legendary drag queen Holly Woodlawn. Through it all, Lance wore his homosexuality on his sleeve. He wasn’t playing a character—he was being himself. Audiences of the period were stunned.
“Lance never compromised his personality,” said Pat Loud. “He never bowed to what others expected of him.”
She explained the origins of the book’s title. “He had a column in Interview magazine called Lance Out Loud,” she recalled. “He’d review records. If he didn’t like a record, he’d say how awful it was. But many of the record producers were advertising in the magazine. His boss told him that he couldn’t do that to advertisers. He lost the job, but he remained true to himself.”
The book paints an affectionate portrait of a gay man who loved art, pop culture, family, friends, and life. “I didn’t whitewash Lance,” said Pat Loud. “I wanted to present the whole character of him. But the book isn’t just about Lance—it’s about an era, [and] it tells you a lot about those times.”
Dozens of photos from Lance’s life as a writer, musician, son, brother, and gay icon are accompanied with short remembrances by those who knew him best. It becomes quite touching to see how profoundly he effected those whose lives he touched, and how close his friends remain to his mom, more than a decade after his passing.
“Every year on Lance’s birthday, I have a party for his friends,” said Pat Loud. “I did this when he was alive, and I’ve kept it up. Lance’s friend Christian Hoffman is like a son to me. He now lives here in Los Angeles, and told me that I could come live with him if ever I needed to.” Loud named Holly Woodlawn and singer Rufus Wainwright as among the friends of Lance’s with whom she remains close. In his contribution to the book, Wainwright recalls Lance’s belief that the greatest sin in life is to be a bore.
Pat Loud says that the book has been well received, garnering a rave review in the Los Angeles Review of Books.
“We miss Lance every day,” she said. “Because of Lance, we are an open-minded lot of people.”
Lance Out Loud
by Pat Loud and Christopher Makos
2012, Glitterati Incorporated (glitteratiincorporated.com)
224 pages, $50
David-Elijah Nahmod lives in San Francisco. His eclectic writing career includes LGBT publications, monster magazines, and the Times of Israel.