SBS Miniseries “When We Rise” Features AIDS Activism [VIDEO]
Real-life heroes inspired this chronicle of LGBT history. The first episode airs Saturday March 11 at 8.30pm on SBS. All too often we get asked about the history of the LGBT movement and its affect on our lives as we attempt to move forward and linked to this is HIV/AIDS history and the affect that the epidemic has played on many aspects of the story.
An epic retelling of the LGBT civil rights movement in the US , spanning four decades and based on real-life pioneers, the SBS miniseries When We Rise of course includes HIV/AIDS as a prominent part of that history.
The four-part series is written by Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for his Milk screenplay, about assassinated gay rights leader Harvey Milk. According to SBS press materials, Gus Van Sant, who directed 2008’s Milk, helmed the first episode of When We Rise.
Starring Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths, Michael Kenneth Williams and with guest appearances such as Whoopi Goldberg, T.R. Knight, Debra Winger, David Hyde Pierce and Phylicia Rashad, the miniseries centers on the stories inspired by real-life LGBT leaders, including Cleve Jones (played by Austin P. McKenzie and, later, Guy Pearce), who created what became the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Jones, along with transgender activist Cecilia Chung (played by Ivory Aquino, who is transgender and was recently profiled in the US People magazine) and several other people in the story are HIV positive.
“There have been so many points in my life when I thought I was done and the movement was done, and I want people to be aware of that right now with Trump,” Jones told The Daily Beast in an extensive interview. “When it seems like it may be over, it’s never over.” In talking about the AIDS crisis, he adds that in San Francisco’s Castro area, “the total death toll in this neighborhood was 25,000—half the gay men of my generation. Half died, half of us survived, and many of those who did survive are still here. That’s a lot of personal tragedy.”
The battle against HIV/AIDS is portrayed in the miniseries alongside other social justice causes such as same-sex marriage equality.
Parts of When We Rise are based on Jones’s recent memoir of the same title.