It's far too easy for important figures to fall to the wayside when it comes to history. When stories are told about key events and powerful movements, the stories are usually limited to only key figures, leaving many good and influential people out in favor of communicating history in a succinct fashion. However, When We Rise is aiming to tell real stories from the birth of the LGBT rights movement in America that aren't often told. Instead of condensing stories and people into original characters, When We Rise is telling the stories of activists like Roma Guy, a real person who fought for equality in the LGBT rights movement.
Guy may not have been one of the figureheads of the equal rights movement, but she's a good representation of the type of person that isn't often featured in films. Guy is a lifelong activist who fought because it was the right thing to do, and she was one of many activists often left out of history books. Just as the two million people who were estimated to have participated in the Women's Marches on Jan. 21, 2017 won't all be featured in the eventual story of the anti-Trump movement, each protestor is still just as important to the movement as any other activist.
The real Guy fought for women's rights in the latter half of the 20th century, and her activism and political involvement has had a lasting impact on her city of San Francisco. Guy founded The Women's Building in San Francisco, which, according to its website, is "a women-led community space that advocates self-determination, gender equality and social justice." In addition to her work with The Women's Building, Guy also "served 12 years on the Health Commission City and County of San Francisco," according to the Graterol Consulting website.
While much of Guy's work focused on women's rights and healthcare, When We Rise looks at Guy in the context of the LGBT rights movement in San Francisco. The show's writer/creator Dustin Lance Black has spent much of his career documenting LGBT history in California, from his 2008 biopic Milk to his play 8 which followed the case against Proposition 8 in California. It's fitting that his focus remains on influential San Francisco figures that he is familiar with, but that the world may not yet know. Guy is just one of many influential figures that Black is turning his focus to in When We Rise.
Mary Louise Parker, who plays Guy in When We Rise, recently spoke on the importance of showing the series on network television and spoke on her feelings towards Guy. During her interview on Live With Kelly! Parker said, "[Guy] is the most remarkable woman. She's an activist, feminist ... has fought and is still fighting at 75 for everyone. She's probably done something for everyone here [with] something that she's moved or gotten past."
Guy has been working behind the scenes this whole time, but When We Rise promises to be a fitting tribute to a woman who dedicated her life to helping others.