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8 Reasons You Have to Tune in to ABC's Powerful LGBT Miniseries When We Rise

8 Reasons You Have to Tune in to ABC's Powerful LGBT Miniseries 'When We Rise'

8 Reasons You Have to Tune in to ABC's Powerful LGBT Miniseries 'When We Rise'

ABC's new miniseries about the fight for LGBT rights is powerful, heartbreaking, and a story everyone needs to see right now.


As the world continues to cause us seemingly endless frustration and fear, could there be a better time for our historical heroes to teach us how they handled hard times in the past? When We Rise is coming at us all week on ABC with the story of the LGBT civil rights movement as shown through the eyes of some of its champions, including Cleve Jones, Ken Jones, Roma Guy, and many more whose stories we need in our lives right now.

The heart-wrenching two hour premiere aired last night on Monday, and the series will continue on Wednesday and finish through the week. If you weren't able to tune in, get caught up tonight (it's on Hulu, for those with access), get ready to feel all the heartbreak, happiness, and history you can handle. Here are eight reasons When We Rise needs to be your top television priority.

8.  It's written by openly gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and the premiere is directed by Gus Van Sant, making it the Milk reunion of our dreams

Remember when Milk, the story of gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, was nominated for eight Oscars and won two of them, including Best Screenplay and Best Actor? That energy is on our very own TV screens now, and Harvey Milk was even a mentor to Cleve Jones. Consider this all one big educational entertainment experience that never stops.

7. The cast list is as badass as it gets

Because of its sprawling timeline, we get to see the movement's greatest fighters across decades and experience several different actors, young and older, telling their stories. Some of these include greats like Mary-Louise Parker, Guy Pearce, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Rachel Griffiths as Roma, Cleve, Ken, and Roma's partner Diane, as well as a younger generation of stars including Fun Home's Emily Skeggs, Spring Awakening's Austin P. McKenzie, stellar newcomer Jonathan Majors, and Fiona Dourif as their younger counterparts. Throw in Rosie O'Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg, Denis O'Hare, T.R. Knight, and more, and you've got a incomparable group telling this story. 

6. The premiere will give you every possible emotion

When We Rise's first installment spares no opportunity to shine light on the sorrows that gave fuel to the first of the movement. From the loss of loved ones to the violent attacks on the characters we're getting to know, When We Rise will have you on the edge of your couch, reaching for tissues, and then smiling with glee as you watch these people connect, grow together, and begin planning how they're going to continue to change the world while being influenced by those before them.

5. You'll experience stories you might never have even heard of before

As we get to know the young people joining the LGBT civil rights movement, we're hit with the seriousness and strength behind their stories. Ken Jones is a young, Black, Vietnam veteran mourning the death of a lover he can't talk about in a story filled with deep sorry, anger, and struggle for sense of self. Young Cleve works to balance his passion for change with his personal safety as his determination for civil rights is met with violence. Young Roma finds herself at odds with her lesbian identity and feminist one, but doesn't let anything get in the way of her passion for protest and growth. We'll miss the profound performances of Majors, McKenzie, and Skeggs as they evolve into their older selves, but only because they've served this premiere so gorgeously. 

4. The love scenes are romantic and not exploitive

Even shows that mean well with LGBT representation often fall prey to fetishizing their love scenes. However, When We Rise shows queer couples connecting sexually and genuinely, in some of the most respectful yet passionate scenes of same-sex love we've seen on television. We're not mad about it at all. 

3. You won't be able to wait to watch the continued story unfold

Granted, we don't have to wait long and technically you could Google real life for spoilers, but When We Rise's compelling storytelling will have you eager to follow these characters and see how they grow from children at the start of a movement into the champions that joined their own heroes in history. And let's be honest, even those of us in the community and who might have done some research before might not be fully versed in exactly how we've gotten here today, so take some time to brush up on who we'll need to emulate as we continue our own fight.

2. We need to do our best to get this to the viewers who certainly don't know anything about the LGBT civil rights movement and who may not want to

Let's not take for granted that a four-night miniseries about the LGBT civil rights struggle is airing on ABC right now. This is a major network, and these are human experiences a massive audience of all kinds needs to be witnessing, especially right now. We're in a time where our rights are being threatened—particularly in the trans community—and there are many people who haven't stopped to think about why our rights are important and just as necessary as theirs. Perhaps they've never met an LGBT person, or perhaps they've never taken a moment to step outside themselves and see what this experience - the risk of being an out person, as well as the pride in it - might be like firsthand. When We Rise is now widely available for them to experience our community for even just a moment. Maybe they'll visit ABC one night this week by accident, but maybe these stories they stumbled upon will grip them. Let's do our best to ensure they tune in and listen up.

1. It's an inspiration for us all right now

Though When We Rise's recollection of this chapter in civil rights history will close on ABC on Friday, we're still very much in the midst of our own battle right now. This series is a reminder that the fight doesn't end, the fight is for so much more than our own personal experience, and that with strength, resilience, and action we ourselves can continue on the front lines of ensuring civil rights for everyone. When We Rise is the true story of humanity coming together to fight for humanity, and it will hopefully inspire many more true stories of spectacular unity.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Preston Max Allen