Tuesday, February 28, 2017

We’ve come a long way

I watched the first episode of When We Rise last night. The story opens in 1972. I’ve known about Cleve Jones and his contributions to the LGBT rights struggles. In 1972 he is still living with his parents in Phoenix, his dad apparently a psychiatrist. Cleve got his start in anti-war protests. When Cleve comes out his father strongly condemns homosexuality and declares it can be fixed. Cleve flees to San Francisco.

Though San Francisco seems to be the place to which gay kids are fleeing (when they can) the mayor and cops have declared that to make the city more corporate friendly they will clean out the undesirables, such as the homeless and gay people.

Roma Guy is active in the National Organization of Women, working on getting the Equal Rights Amendment passed (which eventually didn’t). But Roma is also battling an organization that doesn’t like lesbians. In this first episode we see Roma attempt to reach out to Cleve, a member of another oppressed group. But so many in Roma’s group want nothing to do with men, even gay men as allies.

Roma asks the police for a permit to hold a protest. She is denied because a man isn’t making the request. The women assemble anyway and the police attack.

Cleve is homeless or, in the modern vernacular, couch surfing. He sometimes stays with older men in exchange for favors. Cleve calls his parents and his father urges him to come home to get this thing fixed.

Ken is a black man in the Navy in Vietnam. He is transferred to San Francisco to be a part of a group working on race relations in the military. A gay bar is raided by police and he flees the scene.

By the end of the episode Cleve tells a boyfriend he knows he must stay in San Francisco to make a difference. Roma asks the owner of a gay bar how do you manage to stay open if the mayor is against you? Ken returns to the bar and declares he won’t flee again.

My overall impression from this episode is that we’ve come a long way.

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