We Still Rise

All of this week I’ve had appointment television. I’ve been watching the epic ABC miniseries, When We Rise. For four days I’ve watched a brief history of the LGBT movement play out on the small screen. When We Rise was written by Academy Award winner, Dustin Lance Black and helmed by Dustin Lance Black as well as the legendary Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho among many others), up and coming Dee Rees (she directed Pariah) and the one and only Thomas Schlamme (he did The West Wing). Despite the established pedigree of those involved and the talented cast, the ratings haven’t been what I hoped. It’s something that I have questioned and I was reminded that people interact with their media differently than they once did. While When We Rise was appointment television for me like previous miniseries (Lonesome Dove, Gulliver’s Travels, V, The Tenth Kingdom, Alice In Wonderland), a lot of people were waiting to watch it all in one sitting, an ultimate binge watch.

This post isn’t about ratings though, it’s a public service announcement. When We Rise started with the 1971 Year In Pictures issue of Life magazine and ends with the 2013 Supreme Court decision on California’s Proposition 8 which legalized same sex marriage in California. With the title suggesting that the LGBT movement has risen and the passage of marriage equality via the Supreme Court in all 50 states, one might think that the fight is finished. 

I appreciated that When We Rise showed the intersectionality of the LGBT movement with the woman’s rights movement and civil rights movement and other various movements although I was disappointed that little was shown about the transgender struggle. In that vein, I wanted to make sure people knew that the fight continues, not only in my home state of Michigan but across the United States.

It was a glorious day when the decision on marriage equality came down. I celebrated in Detroit at the Spirit of Detroit statue and I later celebrated with my friends in Ferndale. But I didn’t forget the fact that I could have gotten married that night and fired the next morning because I was gay or even perceived as gay. 

There are only 19 states that have nondiscrimination laws that protect both sexual orientation and gender identity. The fight continues here in Michigan to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include both sexual orientation and gender identity. 

When the Red Cross announces that there’s a blood shortage, I can donate blood unless I’m celibate for a year. There are so many screening steps that doner blood goes through before it reaches a patient but I’m still stigmatized because of HIV/AIDS.

We all know about gender inequality when it comes to getting paid. That’s something that we need to still fight for but it’s a little known fact that, on average, gay men make less than straight men while lesbians make more than straight women. Don’t even get me started on how a person named Mark will be called for an interview but a person named Marquil will not. 

Non-white American citizens are being harassed and sometimes killed on an ever increasing basis. OrangeAsshole has given ignorant people carte blanche. Two Indian-Americans were attacked a Kansas bar because immigration discrimination is increasing.

My trans* brothers and sisters are being treated like second class pariahs.

Yes, we have come a long way but the fight isn’t over. It’s far from over.


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