Found: The Rejected, first documentary about gay people to air on American television

Unseen for more than 50 years, KQED’s groundbreaking documentary resurfaces and is now available online for LGBT Pride Month.

The Rejected

SAN FRANCISCO, June 5, 2015 – KQED, the public media organization serving Northern California, and the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive, part of the special collections department at San Francisco State University’s J. Paul Leonard Library, today announced the recovery of The Rejected, the first ever nationally-televised documentary about homosexuality. Produced by KQED and introduced by KQED’s then General Manager James Day, it debuted on September 11, 1961.

A story about the film and its recovery will air this evening at 5pm PST on KQED Radio’s All Things Considered. An article about The Rejected and link to the complete film can be found at The hour-long documentary was described at the time as “a frank and outspoken appraisal of homosexuality in modern society.” It includes interviews with anthropologist Dr. Margaret Mead, religious leaders, early gay rights activists and others.

Many film historians believed that the original film had been lost according to KQED archivist Robert Chehoski, who got in touch with the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive to see if they could make it available. “Over the years I’ve been contacted by several film and LGBT studies professors who were looking for this pioneering film.” said Chehoski. “We’re thrilled the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive not only found it but are making it available to the public in time for LGBT Pride Month.”

“In the 1960s KQED was tackling subjects related to racism, the arts, civil rights, Native Americans and gay people that few others would,” said Alex Cherian, film archivist at San Francisco State University. “We are sometimes frustrated by the speed of progress but when you look at a film like The Rejected from 1961, you see that things have really improved since then. On the flip side, you also see many of the same challenges persist.”

“KQED has a history of producing local documentaries that are bold, creative and, at times, revolutionary.  We are proud that KQED was one of the first television stations in the country to produce and to share stories about the LGBT community,” says Michael Isip, KQED’s chief content officer. “Celebrating and reflecting the rich and diverse communities of the San Francisco Bay Area remains a core part of KQED’s mission today.”

Additional LGBT programs airing this month on KQED include Independent Lens: We Were Here on Monday, June 8, at 10pm on KQED 9 and POV: Out in the Night  on Monday, June 22 at 10pm on KQED 9. For a full June 2015 LGBT Pride Month Program and Event Guide, please go to

KQED Public Television, the PBS affiliate that serves Northern California, is one of the country’s most popular public television stations. It brings the values of public media to homes around the Bay Area with Emmy Award–winning programming that inspires, informs and entertains, including Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey, Masterpiece Mystery: Sherlock, American Experience, American Masters, Great Performances, POV, Independent Lens, NOVA and Nature. KQED produces local series like Check, Please! Bay Area, KQED NEWSROOM, San Francisco Opera, Truly CA and ImageMakers, as well as popular programs for national broadcast such as Film School Shorts, Essential Pépin and QUEST. KQED also distributes programming to public media stations across the country including The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, Roadtrip Nation and Joanne Weir’s Cooking School. For more information, please visit

Located in the special collections department of Leonard Library at San Francisco State University, the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive was established in 1982 by Helene Whitson. This unique moving image collection presents sixty years of social history and cultural revolution in the San Francisco Bay Area, as captured on local news reports and documentary film.

Sarah Hoffner
(415) 553-8447

Bryce Eberhart
(415) 553-8451

San Francisco State University
Beth Tagawa
(415) 338-6745

Found: The Rejected, first documentary about gay people to air on American television 5 June,2015Evren Odcikin

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor