When We Rise (TV Mini-Series 2017) Poster


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Awesome History Lesson for My Grandkids!
zigzagmolly1 March 2017
I watched the first episode with my tween/teen grandkids. They were amazed at how people were treated. We need to remember and tell our kids this kind of hate and power behavior can happen again. It was so refreshing to see this reality in light of the current political climate. EVERYONE is different in some way and we are all so alike in so many ways. Tolerance and acceptance is essential for humans to survive, so making sure our kids KNOW the history and how easy it could be to go back to that is so needed. Can't wait to see the upcoming episodes!
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thezeepeople27 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This miniseries (so far) has been as inspiring as it is shocking to the senses. We all forget what LGBTQ people have been through to get to where they are today. This is the perfect time to air this miniseries. This new administration is trying to reverse all the progress that has been made so far. This show helps us to never forget the horrible past some endured, so we may never repeat it.
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terrycowan-457641 March 2017
I am 5 years younger than Cleve Jones, so I don't have his experiences but I do remember a lot of what this project recreates (a young Sylvester!). It's bringing back memories, nostalgia & emotion, the latter also because of the young talent involved. The casting, writing & performances all are bringing characters to life in effective, brief moments, as must happen when you telescope decades of history into the lives of a few characters. The 1st episode hooked me, I will be watching the rest of this retelling of what is epic, living history - maybe survivor history is more apt. Some of the misguided criticism validates this project: "Hasn't this story been told?", "This is just identity politics", "Not a fit subject for primetime network television". NONE of these are valid. Bring it on, ABC!
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An Earnest Effort with Mixed Results
dglink4 March 2017
Lofty goals and high ambitions are not guarantors of success. Neither are Oscar-winning screen writers, Oscar-nominated directors, nor seasoned performers. The overly ambitious TV miniseries, "We Shall Rise," comes across as an historical pastiche culled from such superior material as "Milk," "And the Band Played On," "Longtime Companion," and "The Normal Heart." Dustin Lance Black's California-centric teleplay uses broad strokes to cover the gay rights movement from the Stonewall riots to AIDS to marriage equality through the eyes of three players in the struggle: Cleve Jones, Roma Guy, and Ken Jones. However, even a five-part series cannot do justice to more then four decades of history, especially when the ABC telecast interrupts every two to five minutes with commercials; even more annoying, the commercials look like the program and the program looks like the commercials. Without any transitions, viewers need a few seconds to determine if they are still watching the program or if another ad has sneaked in. The four directors, which include Gus Van Sant, maintain a good pace and utilize newsreel footage, some with unconvincing inserts of the actors, interspersed with the drama to illustrate events. Although challenging to judge with all the interruptions, more favorable reviews may emerge after "We Shall Rise" appears on DVD.

Perhaps most disrupting was the decision to change the cast members mid-program. Austin P. McKenzie, Emily Skeggs, and Jonathan Majors play Cleve, Roma, and Ken during the first few episodes. Then, Guy Pearce, Mary Louise-Parker, and Michael Kenneth Williams take over in the same roles as slightly older versions of the characters. The change is jarring; the younger actors bear little to no resemblance to their slightly more mature counterparts, and none attempts to match their characters mannerisms or personalities. The younger actors come off better, perhaps because they create the characters and suffer no comparisons to earlier incarnations as do Pearce, Parker, and Williams. However, the directors and cast should have studied "Moonlight," a film that seamlessly used three different actors to portray the same character at various stages of his life. Frankly, "We Shall Rise" had little reason to use different actors; the age disparity is not that great, and subtle make-up and acting could have convincingly bridged the age gap. Viewers now ponder why Cleve became more affected as he aged, while Ken became less good natured, not to mention the drastic physical changes.

Unfortunately, ABC's brave decision to devote a week's prime-time programming to a lesson in gay rights history was not well served, and the weak ratings will likely dampen enthusiasm for further efforts. The disjointed telecast impacts the drama, and some good performances from a large talented cast suffer. A generous sprinkling of cameos from Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O'Donnell, Dylan Walsh, David Hyde Pierce, Rob Reiner, and others testifies to the broad support and enthusiasm for the project. However, the intended audience for the project is uncertain. The LGBT community, their friends, and their families already know and have lived this history, while those opposed to equal rights will not tune in. With the choir stalls filled, are there any open minds to fill the pews?
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A worthwhile miniseries looking at the history of the #LGBTQ equality movements in the USA
lillinfields3 March 2017
At such a time in the USA and the world where the LGBTQ community still faces discrimination and violence against us this miniseries came along at a perfect time. I cried a lot of sad and happy tears. W/ such a bigot as potus right now WE all need to come together/continue to fight for our rights. The mini series and Cleve Jones is right,One struggle. One fight. I recommend this miniseries become a staple in helping educate the people and older people just what the LGBTQ life is and how much we've had to fight for equality along the way.
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A good Lesson - History and Heart
kriskaiser3 March 2017
I am so happy about that Show! It's memories, nostalgia & emotion, mixed in a good history lesson. I watch it with a good friend. One thought was - we hope the young audience is watching it too. They run around, like everything is for granted out there. They enjoy Club-Life and Party, holding Hands on the Streets and think, that being Gay is pure Fashion and Party 24/7. But we had a very long Way to get to the Point, where we are today. We had to fight for every Right to be - somehow - equal. We left a long Trail of Tears out there, and on that Fight, we lost many Friends. I was pushed away from my Family after my Coming-Out, but in those Days, I found a new Family. And we stick together til now. Some Members are already no longer with us too. Some of their Names might never be known to the bright Public. We have paved the Way for Years and we still fight, to make a better place for Up- and Outcoming young Gay Generations. So my message is... if there is an older Gay around, hear their Storys and be sure, you might profit from that. The Show brought some tears to my eyes... happy and sad ones. Can't wait for the next Episode! And I wan't to let the Rest of this World know... the Fight is not over... And I am one of the proud Soldiers in it! I am proud to be Gay!
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Watch out for Trolls
DiscoVinyl4 March 2017
As much as I enjoyed this mini-series I felt it was even more important for me to voice my dismay at the trolls. It is clear that there are homophobic people coming on here just to give this series a low rating when they clearly have not watched it.

If the content of this mini-series is not for you, no one is forcing you to watch it. There are plenty of sports related programs that bore me to tears. But would I ever imagine to sign on to a website to malign them? Would I complain that too many people spend precious time and money being obsessed with other people who are just playing a game? No because I believe it's their right. If sports are your bag well then fine you can keep getting a thrill from them while I change the channel.

This series is history. A history that doesn't get taught in schools. It's important. It's also a history that every one should know regardless of their sexuality, political affiliation or religion. These things happened around us. This is not a fantasy or made-up story.

There are many great performances and there are some scenes simply meant to tug on your heart- strings. But the fact is, it does make you feel something. Unlike so much of what's on t.v. that is made solely to make money and get a huge audience. ABC surely must have known that this was not going to be a ratings blockbuster. Kudos to them for giving it the green-light anyway.

A mini-series like this is even more important now under the political climate we are living in.
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Important story, but trite, melodramatic dialogue and mediocre acting disappointed me
kmcginty7131 May 2017
The story is one that's important to tell, but the quality is NO WHERE near "And the Band Played On" or "Milk." The dialogue is trite and forced, and when the "bad guys" (homophobes) speak, they sound like villains straight out of Dragnet. The bad dialogue then prevents these talented actors from giving strong performances. I almost wondered if George Lucas had written the screenplay...

DO watch it; it's important for kids and younger adults today to know this story. But I have to recommend "And the Band Played On" as the better film on the same topic.It was made for HBO with better acting and more believable dialogue, and actually tells you much more about the early days of the AIDS crisis.

I'm very disappointed to see how "network" ABC made this thing; it feels low budget and heavily watered down.
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Defied Expectations
caseysparker6 March 2017
I just finished watching the premiere episode and I must say, I was very impressed. I was on the fence about watching this because I read a few semi-negative/average reviews of the series. However, all I'm going to say is I strongly disagree with calling this series anything other than excellent thus far. Especially when you compare it to what else is out there. I definitely came in with relatively average expectations, but was very pleasantly surprised. I'm glad a few reviews didn't dissuade me from watching a great series. You can tell ABC put in a good amount of time, effort and resources to make this and it shows in the superb quality of the content they produced. I highly recommend you give this series a shot. Especially if you're on the fence like I was, because you might just end up really liking it. UPDATE: Just finished the series and I loved it! Especially the last two episodes. It was a great overview of LGBTQ+ history and how it got to be where it is today - while still making it interesting and highlighting the three main activists in the story Roma, Cleve & Ken.
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I love this film
Sober-Friend17 March 2017
This may not be high on your list of "Must See" television but it should be. Even if you are not part of the LGBT community you know someone who is. Watching this may bring you a little understanding.

This film is based on several real life people who were part the gay rights movement. Mostly set with the people that lived in the San Francisco from the beginning of the "Gay Rights Movement". This film is informative and we learn there is still modern day heroes.

If you are gay then you will find this at times "hard to watch" but that is what makes this worth watching. It tells the truth. The "Up's & Downs".

My favorite episode is the last one. There is a scene where near the very end that shows 2 people (An African American and an Asian American) hugging and embarrassing. No they are not lovers. They are two pioneers and survivors who share a genuine friendship and a deep love for each other that will bring a tear to your eye.
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Excellent, educational, powerful mini-series.
lovehealthjoy3 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This was a powerful mini-series that needed to be made, especially in the current political climate in the USA. It is more then frighteningly educational; it is portrayed with heartbreaking reality, reminding us how unchecked ignorance and hate needlessly cause devastation to countless lives. The lessons of communication, education, determination, perseverance and LOVE reverberate throughout this excellent series. Acted well, filmed well, directed well. Bravo producers!!! The courage that is portrayed by not just the key players in this slice of history, but ALL who lived it is phenomenal and an important lesson to all of us for what may lay ahead.
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good journalism . . .not so good as drama
wgingery1 March 2017
First impressions: preachy, patronizing, sanctimonious . . . as I watched, I just felt any interest in these people drain away.

The acting is serviceable enough, but the writing keeps you at a distance. Once the author sets them in motion, there are no surprises, no tension, no conflicts; these people just keep going like little wind-up toys.

The atmosphere the series creates didn't seem accurate, either. Which is odd, considering that the same author's "Milk" hit it right on the money.

Oh, well, keep trying.
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Way too many commercials
phillywillie28 February 2017
The production is super. I am a 68 year old GWM and have lived through most of this drama. I must say that I have never seen so many commercials in a TV show. I had to stop watching after the first hour. Really, 4 minutes of program and then 2 minutes of commercials is hard to take. But I give them credit for making a major effort.
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A movie that doesn't, but should have appealed to gays AND straights.
vantal-842293 April 2017
A very preachy, agenda-driven, predictable film that proclaims the controversy of the hot topic of homosexuality in a political way. In case you don't know any better, the majority of Conservatives find homosexuality to be an abomination in the eyes of their God, and this movie will do nothing to change that sentiment. It should have been completed in a way that educates, instead of SUBTLY preaches, promotes, proclaims, and edifies homosexuality. It should have been completed in a totally objective way, that grabbed the attention not only of homosexuals, but also of straight people - - - but even more to straight people.
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This is only gay male history. Where is the lesbian history?
lassonias2 March 2017
Same old, same old. I've always admired Cleve Jones and all he's done, but just like so much "gay" programming, it's all about the gay male experience. Lesbians are incidental. I am waiting for a lesbian history docudrama, with women who look, act, and have lives like real lesbians. How about a docudrama about Jean Jullien? Or Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon? Or women's music? Just as men have co-opted American culture and made men the "default, normal" they are now co-opting the LGBTQ history and experience. Sexism is just as alive and well within portrayals of the "gay" community as everywhere else.
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A 20th Century Human Rights Struggle that keeps going today
tm-sheehan17 March 2017
A must see Teleplay for everyone who has ever cared about Human Rights issues ,especially young GLBTQI people who are enjoying many of the freedoms that were hard fought for and our struggles and setbacks from the early 1970's .

A splendid cast that includes Guy Pearce ,Rachel Griffiths, Mary Louise Parker and Jonathan Majors it's all true ,it happened in my lifetime and it shows how far we still have to go,especially in Australia with the battle for Marriage Equality for all.
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A must-see, educational, beautifully performed, smart, touching
frederick_nam14 April 2017
This is the story which has needed to be mentioned, beautifully played by Emily Skeggs, Austin P. McKenzie, Mary-Louise Parker and the others.

Very smart and educational script from genius Dustin Lance Black.

This must be nominated for Best miniseries, screenplay, actors and actresses.
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Trans people
sheila-905124 March 2017
I watched all the episodes and I'm Trans. I don't know much about the history but know enough that as a trans person, we were left out. We had a few minor spots but we were in the fight. We were an after thought for the Stonewall riot. Just like as always, throw the trans person under the bus. Don't include them.
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Powerful, Moving and Inspirational
PippinInOz9 March 2017
This is superb. I have just finished watching the entire series and

feel very emotional and moved by the entire experience.

I am a straight woman. So if you are reading about this series and are not a member of the LGBT community, please watch it. The acting is first class throughout, what you may know already as little 'soundbites' from the news and documentaries are given their personal and human context. I was cheering them on all through their struggles the injustices and the protests. I loved these characters and think you might too.

This is an important piece of television for many reasons. Firstly, these are ordinary people doing courageous extraordinary things. There is a lesson there for all of us who care about human rights and equality, regardless of our gender or sexual persuasion. Secondly, in days like these, it reminds all of us just how much of a battle the LGBT community has had to fight (and continues to fight - particularly in certain parts of the World) for respect and equality. A better World does not come from doing nothing. Whether you feel strongly about workers' rights, (which I do), the environment.....you will feel in awe of what these people both had to suffer - and what they have achieved.

Respect! Highly recommended.
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Inspiring and Sometimes Difficult Mini Series to Watch
kingbk-227 March 2017
When We Rise is a return of the mini-series, something that used to be common place on the "big three" TV networks. It's based on true people and events that happened during the "LGBTQ revolution" that started in the mid 70s and finally concluded in 2015, when gay marriage was deemed the law of the land.

The series focuses on three different characters and story lines. The first is Cleve Jones, who at the beginning is an 18-year-old who finally moves out of his Arizona home after telling his parents he's gay. His dad wants him to get "conversion therapy", which Jones refuses. He heads to San Francisco and struggles surviving, couch surfing and taking odd jobs in order to eat. Eventually, he finds his way and finds a job with Harvey Milk's team. After Milk's assassination, he gets involved in politics and the fight to stop AIDS. The second is Roma Guy, a lesbian who moves from Maine to San Francisco. She initially is involved in the women's liberation movement, but becomes a key cog in connecting the bridge between that and the gay rights movement, befriending men, who many women disdain and ignore in their fight for rights. The last is Ken Jones, a black gay man who fought in Vietnam. He is discharged and moves to San Francisco to help with race relations. He, too, moves into the gay rights movement, adding the race factor into it and showing it's not just a white issue, but an issue for all races. The characters grow up, age and become further involved with the gay rights movement as they get older.

It's inspiring and not always easy to watch, as we see them get hurt by violence, hate, AIDS and much more. You learn that San Francisco, the former home of the hippie movement, actually wasn't receptive to the gay movement at first and pushed strongly against it at the beginning. You learn that this fight to get close to equal rights as possible was over 40 years, and still there are issues they face today.

If you want an eye opening experience learning just how hard of a fight equality is, check out When We Rise.
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Beautiful and compelling, but weakens toward the end.
cornflakeboy2014 March 2017
This mini-history of lgbt civil rights begins in 1971 with a young Cleve Jones along with two other activists' story in San Francisco, as they attempt to create a safe space for the gay community, elect Harvey Milk, deal with the AIDS crisis, and finally help to usher in gay marriage. The beginning is quite compelling as we are thrust into the epicenter of late 60s/early 70s activism not only with the gay rights movement, but civil rights and feminism. While it is odd that it did not begin with the Stonewall riots a few years earlier, we do get the impression that we are following the right people at the right time to get a bird's eye view of the struggle. The actor playing the young Cleve Jones, upon whose memoir the story was based, does a wonderful job playing a charismatic young man. His older version, played by Guy Pearce, is equally convincing, though the passage of time and changes in his life have made him a less intriguing character. The young actress portraying Roma Guy, a community activist and feminist, suffers from unfortunate hair styling and a bit of shyness, which is corrected in her older version well-played by Mary Louise Parker. Ken Jones, no relation to Cleve, is first portrayed as a soldier, then we follow him as he loses a partner, contracts HIV, succumbs to drugs, then finds God and himself (and some bad hair choices). Dustin Lance Black, who created the series, is best known for the film Milk, and fortunately/unfortunately, the best elements of the story of When We Rise were also contained in that film. The history of San Francisco through the assassination of Milk is fascinating in and of itself. Then, we go in descending order. The history of the early days of AIDS told in the second two episodes is nearly as compelling (as presented here) but begins a slow descent in quality (needless to say, And the Band Played On, presents it better). By the time we're arguing for gay marriage, we wonder if perhaps focusing on different characters for each segment might have been a better plan. While the three leads are center to the action early on, they drift out of importance. The story begins following dramatic story lines that can seem melodramatic. As soon as a good thing happens to a character, you can be certain that something is coming to take the good thing way by the next scene, if not later in the scene itself. It gets a telenovela quality where anything that happens in the life of the characters is mere grist for drama. I am the sort of viewer who loves stories of protests and human rights struggles, and was nearly crying during the first four parts (or first two in their 90 minute versions). It is a great human story and tragedy, very compelling and very modern. It teaches you things you may not know, even if you consider yourself well informed. The last two episodes, perhaps because they are so recent, just are not as compelling. It seems very few compromises were made to put this show on ABC. I was greatly impressed that it didn't seem heavily censored for heterosexuals who might not even watch it. One of the concessions did seem to be that though Democrats have been better on gay rights issues, the series couldn't take sides. Much is made of Clinton not saying a certain phrase in a speech that the activists wanted him to make. This is a real letdown from the high stakes of earlier struggles, and makes you wonder if that scene was just in there to show that Clinton wasn't perfect on the issue (we all know he was not). Overall, I do wish that perhaps we had a new narrator or narrators for each of the two part portions of the series. And that it had started earlier, in the late 60s perhaps. But as a portrait of this particular civil rights struggle from the 70s until roughly today, this manages to well surpass expectations. It's entertaining, educational, and inspirational.
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Nights 3 and 4 Won Me Over...
MovieHoliks6 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Wowza; I managed to watch this entire ABC mini-series, all 4 2-hour parts! -- over the weekend off HULU. Remember the days of the TV mini- series back in the '70s and '80s?, such classics as "Rich Man, Poor Man", "Roots", "The Thorn Birds", etc... These were on for several nights in a row, like ten hours long. It seems nowadays, a mini-series (on network television anyways) is usually no more than a 2-parter. Well, this one you do get your fill; that's for sure.

"When We Rise" covers the gay activist movement from the '70s, and the Harvey Milk era, all the way through to the monumental SCOTUS ruling a couple years ago. Just about every actor and their brother must've rushed to be in this; I have no idea where to start, but there are 3 principle characters this series follows, and 2 actors of different ages play each of them, with the ones you'll recognize being Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker and Michael K. Williams.

I thought the first two nights were decent enough, but it's the 3rd and 4th nights, this show really took off for me. For Pearce, one could argue this was a good bookend to 1994's "Adventures of Priscilla"? His character seemed to be the central figure throughout this whole journey. And as usual MK Williams proves what a great underrated talent he is; he practically steals the show with some really heart-wrenching moments.
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cristoffer-l22 May 2018
Fantastic journey through the painful and inspiring story of the LGBTQ+ recent history.
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Not a Corny Lifetime movie...
hannahp111 June 2017
First I want to say is that I am shocked that ABC would make such a long mini series about the history of gay people. Usually u get this on HBO or Showtime so thank you ABC. The only thing that bothered me was that they had a language warning at the beginning of each episode. I don't recall any at all. The kissing and sexual scenes were tastefully done and respectful but honest too. Very refreshing.

There was not a fake moment in the series. I was worried that they were going to slant this to make the republicans evil and the Clintons and Obama rock Gods but they didn't. They did not slant at all and they did not make gays look perfect either but human and real.

At the end you feel like you just went through the decades that the real characters went through yourself.

Dustin you deserve the Emmy and any other award you are nominated for.

Honest and truthful.

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When We Rise: A Heartful History Lesson That Shines Light on Important Gay Rights Stories
aaronredis21 April 2018
There's so much to be said for this mini-series.

This mini-series is important. These topics are important. History is important. Equal rights are important. I had tears in my eyes throughout the whole show. This mini-series is absolutely stunning and powerful. Thank goodness we finally found a series that bypasses, destroys, and cancels the classic gay clichés aimed at simple relationships. Here, the largest one true pairing is between humans and justice.

This show is so human, addressing several important issues that must be discussed in society, like the rights of women, gays, straights, blacks, whites, and civilians. What a spectacular show.

This is so important for everyone to understand the battles that were fought to achieve the rights and freedom LGBTQ+ individuals have today, especially when it seems the hands of time are going in reverse as of right. Those who came before us fought to obtain these rights; now it's our turn to fight to keep those rights.

It takes a dose of courage, awareness, hope, and despair to enter the fight as do the heroes of this story. It can start with little things, every day, under any circumstances, to lead up to these moments. But little things put together, multiplied by a crowd of people, can do a lot. The show tells us 40 years of the struggle of the LGBT movement in 4 episodes. As a result, the shortcuts made are sometimes felt, but the crossed destinies of this handful of activists, and their struggle for a more just world, more than make us forget some flaws.

Many emotions and anger await you if you let yourself be tempted. You can expect shivers of emotion all over your body. A lot said with very few words with amazing music. It's a great chance to learn more about movements that changed the world.

Now it's time for some truth talk that this series will also cover:

No one gets to tell another person who they can love. Love is free but freedom to love seems to come with a price. Encourage your friends and family, gay or straight to watch this mini-series. It should be watched with eyes full of respect. Respect for all those people who died fighting for even a shred of equal rights. Rights that everyone should have, without discrimination of sex, race, or color. We are all human beings. That's the lesson here.

It's appalling that this story still holds relevance today. And to say that still today, LGBTQ+ individuals still have to face this violence. The society regresses in a sense, as if all this had been for nothing. There are still those who banish gays, those who mock those of color, those who refuse immigration, those who run missiles against nations to get their own dominion, those who fight for religious ideals, those who are fanatical and those who are anarchists. I'm glad there's this mini-series, because we have to open our eyes and we have to embrace the fact that people are different.

The important perspective this series will also confront is: For all homophobes, imagine if the world was reversed, and that the "normality" was to be gay, would you? Will you stumble your identity to fit into the "norm"? Imagine if "homophobia" (what a dreadful word) was replaced by "heterophobia", what would you do? It's cruel, is not it? There is no need to be gay to support the LGBTQ+ cause, just to be human.

Outside of my rant, I find the series well-built with a solid plot and good actors. The actors' performances are wonderful. Embodying the lives of the real life people who paved the way to the freedoms we have through the suffering of so many who did not live to see the victories.

I'd hate for people to miss this. I'll say it until I lose my voice: This show is VERY important. This is our history. We must remember it. Because all the people who have died just because of who they love. Because people still want to love in their own way without doing it in fear. Let it enter your heart and you will not regret it. Approach this series without prejudice, with the simple interest of informing you about important historical facts but in the form of mini-series. It will charm you. It's a beautiful representation of human diversity. It's sad how underrated this is.

Thank you, ABC, for sharing this story with us. And thank you, Dustin Lance Blake. I adored it.

I give "When We Rise" a 9.5/10.
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