When We Rise

When We Rise is a four part mini-series documenting the journey of LGBTQIA+ activists Cleve Jones, Roma Guy, Ken Jones, and Cecilia Chung who were leaders in the civil right’s movement which later turned into the Gay right’s movement.

As someone who is a part of then LGBTQ+ community and is too young to have been alive during the time of many of these historical events I believe it’s very important to educate myself on Queer History and culture. We don’t learn these things in school and they definitely aren’t in our textbooks. Even the biggest events like the Stonewall Riots were never spoken of in any classroom I’ve been in. Our textbooks are white-washed and filled with the the accounts of straight white men, so it’s up to us as individuals to learn about the history that the rest of society actively tries to erase.

When We Rise covers Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the AIDS epidemic, police relations with the queers community, and marriage equality. While none of this was news to me, it was quite heart wrenching to see it played out. I think ABC did a good job showing just how brutal the world was to the LGBTQ+ community during the 1970’s. One critique I have of the series is it is mainly based in New York and San Francisco, which is where the movement took place so it makes sense, but this doesn’t show how much more danger people were in when living in different areas in America.

I thought one thing they did really well was covering the AIDS epidemic. It was incredibly informative and if you had never been told about the governments response ( well lack there of ) then this would be very eye opening. They showed the resilience of the community and how they banned together during this difficult time. We lost nearly an entire generation of queer men and a lot of people don’t realize that.

I would have liked to see LGBTQ+ people play these roles and I’m not sure why the casting directors chose not to cast queer people for the majority of the roles. I looked up pictures of many of the real people in this series to see if they chose actors who looked like them, but that really wasn’t the case. They were great actors and did a good job, but I think queer people should play queer roles in films and on TV.

Overall despite a few things I would change, this was an amazing series and couldn’t have come at a better time. It was raw and didn’t hold back or sugar coat any situation. When We Rise showed the revolution and resilience of the community like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I think everyone, gay or straight, should watch this mini-series and learn about this piece of history that we often don’t shed a light on. We are still living the “LGBT civil rights movement” with things like the bathroom bill in North Carolina being passed, revoking the protection of trans kids in public schools, and the laws in Texas that are being considered right now.

Did you watch When We Rise? What did you think?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

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Dear Mr. President, Thank You

Over the past eight years I have enjoyed watching the Obama family. Today seven days before inauguration of our next President, and I am sad to see them go. They have received lots of hate and bigotry, but have returned it with love and compassion. I am not only sad because of who is taking over, but also because most Barack and Michelle have been very inspiring to me.

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I believe Barack Obama has been one of the most intelligent, articulate, and compassion Presidents this country has ever had. He has bettered our country. I truly believe that is an fact, and not an opinion. Our economy is better, millions of people now have health insurance that previously weren’t able to, he passed marriage equality, he took down Osama Bin Laden, and the list goes on. Even in his last days in office he has worked hard to make a change.

As a queer person I will never be able to thank him enough for legalizing marriage equality. Although things could change, his decision has changed my life forever, and I am eternally grateful. I will be able to achieve my goals of getting married and having kids, thanks to him. I am grateful my dad was able to find a job after he was laid off, and I’m grateful our economy has recovered enough for him to be able to do so. Eight years ago, that may have not been the case.

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First Lady Michelle Obama has been a role model for me. She showed the world what a strong and articulate woman looks like. Every time I hear her speak, I get inspired to make a change in the world. She has taken her role as the First Lady seriously and has touched many lives, including mine. She isn’t some trophy wife sitting around and spending her husbands money, she works hard, and has her own career.

Barack and Michelle have shown America what a good couple looks like. With 1 in 2 marriages ending in divorce, it was refreshing to see such a strong couple. They showed us what two people who are truly in love look like, and they showed us what good parent look like. I hope to one day have a relationship like the Obamas do, and I’m in love with my best friend. I’m sad children today will not be able to grow up seeing such a strong couple in the White House.

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I like how the Obamas can take a joke. Being in the lime light means every move you make is being examined under a microscope. They have continuously been on talk shows like Ellen, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, etc. and are able to make fun of themselves. The Obamas laugh along, and don’t get butt-hurt when someone cracks a joke. They are able to be silly and fun, while still holding up a sense of professionalism.

So, Thank You Mr. President, and thank you First Lady. I will never forget the changes you made to this country, and how you’ve inspired me. As for the next four year, when they go low, we go high. 😉

Lots of Love and Gratitude,

Alyssa