On This Gay Day: ‘A Certain Summer’ premiered in 1972

‘A Certain Summer’ shows a sympathetic portrayal of a same sex relationship

The TV movie A Certain Summer premiered on US TV on this day back in 1972. The film is acknowledged as one of the first sympathetic depictions of a same sex relationship on television.

The ‘Movie of the Week’ told the story of divorced contractor Doug Salter, portrayed by Hal Holbrook, who is expecting a visit from his teenage son. In preparation for the visit he asks his partner Gary McClain to move out of their house, so his son will not discover that he is in a same-sex relationship. Martin Sheen, who was yet to have his breakthrough role in Terrance Malik’s Badlands, played McClain.

When the teenager discovers his father is gay he runs away in disgust, they later reunite later Salter tries to explain his sexuality to his son with mixed results. The broadcast got the thumbs up from critics with the New York Times reviewer Marilyn Beck calling it “one of the finest pieces of drama you’ll see this year on large or small screen.”

Holbrook, who is now 95 years old, recalled in an interview just a few years ago that when he first received the script he was going to pass on the role, but was convinced to take it by Carol Rosen, who would become his second wife.

“It turned out to be very prominent and powerful, and you have to remember that in those days, back then homosexuality was not talked about. ” Holbrook said back in 2018.  “It was a big risk for them to put it on. The principle of it what attracted me to it, the principle of fair play, honesty, decency – that’s it kid – we’re all human.”

Director Lamont Johnson said it the TV network were incredibly nervous about screening the film and has shared that he received a memo from a top executive at ABC ruling that there should be no physical contact between the lead actors, not even lingering eye contact.

The two lead actors were reunited when they both appeared on the TV show The West Wing where Sheen starred as President Josiah Bartlett and Holbrook made several appearances as Foreign Affairs expert Alby Duncan.

Also on this day in history

In 1932 the play Incubator was reviewed by The New York Times. The play dealt with the homosexuality in an all boys school. The production was produced by Arthur Edison and George Burton and ran for just seven performances.

In 1980 the book Overcoming Homosexuality was published. Author Robert Kronenmeyer suggested that people could be cured from being same sex attracted if they ate a strict vegan diet.

TV show Ally McBeal got people’s attention in 1999 when star Calista Flockhart’s character locked lips with her office nemesis Ling, played by Lucy Liu. The same-sex kiss delivered the show its highest ratings to date.

Taiwan held it’s first Pride Parade in 2003 with 1,000 people attending. Today it has grown to be one of the biggest Pride Parades in Asia with over 30,000 participants.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is celebrating his 60th birthday, in 2014 he became the first ECO of Fortune 500 company to publicly come out as gay. Singer Sophie B Hawkins is turning 56 today, she’s described herself as omnisexual. She had a bunch of hits in the 90’s including Damn, Wish I Was Your Lover, Right Beside You, and As I Lay Me Down. 

OIP Staff


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