HBO Max’s new docudrama Equal premieres tonight and sets out to tell the story of LGBTQ+ liberation in America; a rich, volatile, and ongoing struggle full of victories, defeats, and a great many heroes that until recently were intentionally erased from history.
“In 1952, admitting to being gay would get you 15 years in jail“
Perhaps people take for granted their history, associating it with boring classroom lectures (“Bueller… Bueller… Bueller”, but I digress). However, if your history was taken from you or erased as is the case with many LGBTQ+ people then you are a group without an identity.
It is from the past that we learn, so by removing stories like the 1966 uprising at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco or learning about the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis and trailblazers like Bayard Rustin and José Sarria we are left with a poorer understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.
Erasing the history of the LGBTQ+ (or any minority) community is quite insidious. It makes it harder for the larger population to accept you because without a history there is no point of reference, no legacy, no lessons learned – in short no progress. So it is important for the LGBTQ+ community to know and share their history. It helps the next generation realize they are not alone, kills the isolation that drives people into the closet and hopefully changes the perception of others who don’t identify or know of people in the LGBTQ+ community.
Check out Equal which is available today, October 22nd, on HBO Max.