If you didn’t get your fill of speeches last night on the Academy Awards, you’ll hear a lot of speeches during the 4-night event series, When We Rise. Written by Academy Award winner, Dustin Lance Black, the event series chronicles the lives of individuals who played an integral part in the LGBTQ rights movement. This leads to a lack of drama-building at times which is antithetical to the struggles that millions of Americans have endured. You get the feeling that Blank felt obligated to stay true to the account of legendary activist Cleve Jones which was used as the basis for the series. The sentiment still resides deeply in When We Rise, and now more than ever is needed a collective activism against an evil source.
A Fake Speech
It’s a shame that the 4-night event is broken up by said evil source. Asterisk, as I refer to him, will make a speech Tuesday night to Congress. That he chose to interrupt the event is testimony to why we still need to fight.
The series outlines why the connections to women, immigrants, people with disabilities, and people of color were so important to the LGBTQ movement. Going forward, that importance is extremely clear. The series ends at the Supreme Court ruling declaring part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and letting stand the lower court ruling that California’s Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. The current administration’s travel ban and recent reversal of the Obama administration’s guidelines regarding transgender students’ right to access the public bathroom of their choice are reasons enough for a fight that all should rise up against.
What’s evident in the storytelling is that the LGBTQ rights movement was not a white male movement. And the series does utilize a variety of stories that evidences that.
Momentum does pick up in the latter half of the event series. That coincides with the shift to the more well known actors–Mary Louise Parker, Michael Kenneth Williams, Rachel Griffiths, and the incomparable Guy Pearce–taking over the roles for their younger counterparts. It is an epic story of an epic struggle, and like the activists who they play, the younger actors lay the groundwork for the ones who follow.
When We Rise will inspire no matter who you are. As it points out, struggle never ends. Hopefully, the event series will inspire those on the sidelines to lace up their shoes and clear their throat. “When” is now.