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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Why do we have to fight this stuff?

The laws Obama put in place to protect transgender kids were abolished yesterday.

It makes me so sad that we have to fight for trans people to use the restroom the corresponds with their gender. These laws were made to protect trans students, and the White House sent a very clear message that they are okay with putting these students lives in danger, because they don’t support trans rights. This is beyond ridiculous.

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These are the same people who make fun of safe spaces, and this is exactly why we need safe spaces! Kids shouldn’t be forced to use the wrong bathroom at school or to go by the wrong pronouns. They shouldn’t be afraid to change in the locker room or scared they might get attacked by a classmate. Abolishing these laws tells bullies what they’re doing is acceptable. 41% of transgender people will attempt to commit suicide in their lifetime; bullying and intolerance play a huge role in that statistic. Those statistics are even higher for ethnic minorities, those in poverty, and people who don’t finish high school.

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These kids need protection and love when going through the already difficult experience of middle school and high school. Why are we letting our government out an even bigger target on their back? When I was still going to high school there was a guy I knew who was trans and had gone to elementary school with me. I only knew he was trans because the news spread like wildfire. Everything from supportive comments to transphobic slurs filled the halls. For reference I went to a HUGE school, so it seemed weird that anyone cared, but this is Texas after all. Luckily my school let him use the boys locker room and bathroom, but people weren’t always very nice and he had to deal with the gossip and being misgendered daily.

I don’t have any great advice or solution to the issue, besides telling transphobic people to get their heads out of their asses, but I don’t think that’ll help. Continuing to support organizations that fight for LGBTQ+ rights like the Trevor Project, GLSEN, Trans Lifeline, and The Human Right’s Campaign is important. If you have someone who is transgender in your life let them know how much you love and support them. If you are trans know this cis gay girl may not be able to understand your struggles, but she loves you and supports you 100%!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa