Saturday, March 04, 2017

I Think I Was The Only One Watching

Special Saturday Afternoon Edition!

The ratings were horrible, right at the bottom of the shows but I thought it was a good mini-series. I’m talking about the ABC show “When We Rise.” I saw the movie “Milk” and a lot of the characters from that were on the mini-series but the series started before they met Harvey Milk and ended on the steps of the Supreme Court.

I started watching it to see if there were any trans character in the miniseries but I got hooked on it, and yes there were a couple of trans characters in it. The first scenes were of a bar owned by a trans woman and then they had a number of other trans characters in the series.

The Buzzfeed says there were four minor trans characters in the series, but all were played by trans actors…
For the four trans roles in When We Rise, Black told the casting directors that they needed to hire trans actors. They recommended Ivory Aquino for Cecilia Chung, a main character, and sent her tape along to Black. “I got a little angry with them,” Black said. “I said, ‘I want to cast trans — go work harder, go find a trans actress.’ They said, ‘Ivory’s going to be calling you.’ She came out to me on the phone as trans.” Casting trans performers in trans roles has been a seemingly impossible task for Hollywood, from The Danish Girl to Transparent to Dallas Buyers Club. But that was not the case for When We Rise, Black said. “The big surprise was: It’s easy.”
Gomag reported that,
Cecilia Chung, played by out transgender actress Ivory Aquino, has spent much of her adult life working to advocate for those living with HIV. Though she was at first estranged from her family when she came out as trans, Chung later found reconciliation with her mother, which you’ll see happen in the ABC series. Chung is now a pivotal staff member at the Transgender Law Clinic, which is a continuation of her career in taking a stance for the LGBTQ community. In 2001 Chung became the first Asian and first transgender woman elected to San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee Board President. She has paved the way for many as the first person living openly with HIV to Chair the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. Chung continues to make positive strides for the trans community.

Bobbie Jean Baker (Jazzmun) left Memphis, Tennessee for San Francisco in 1992. Baker became a pivotal leader in the trans community with her varied work as a peer advocate, case manager, domestic violence specialist and housing manager. Much of this work was done through her role as lay minister at Transcending Transgender Ministries. Baker was an ordained minister through the City Refuge United Church of Christ and served as the West Coast Regional TransSaints Minister of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. She was also well known for her role in the Transcendence Gospel Choir, an all-transgender singing group of which she was a part of for more than a decade.

After her untimely death in 2014, Tiffany Woods of the Tri-City Health Center in Fremont, California, told the San Jose Mercury News, “It’s a big community loss. She was huge in the African-American transgender community and the community at large. She was grooming the younger generation and mentoring them. Part of the work we are all doing is mentoring and teaching and training as much as we can.”
Since the focus of the series was marriage equality I expected to have any trans characters in minor roles but I was curious to see if there were going to be trans characters and I was delighted to see that there were some and the fact that they were all played by trans people was a welcome bonus.

Overall I thought it was an excellent miniseries but I knew the ratings would be low. Most people just don’t want LGBT shows; case in point is Doubt the short run show with Laverne Cox. But I think those who watched the enjoyed from the comments that I saw on Facebook.

My involvement in the LGBT movement didn’t start until the fall of  2006 and took off during the 2007 legislative season. I went around to the trans groups talking about the non-discrimination bills, a couple of times I went with Love Makes A Family people to talk after their marriage about our bill was passed about the future of LMF. Two times stand out, they both were after the marriage bill was signed into law by Governor Malloy, once I went down to New London to with Anne, Matt, and Gannon, and I remember the ride back talking politics and I thought I was way out of my league.

From the UConn School of Law
Town Hall Meeting
We did another town hall meeting that was at UConn School of Law and after I talked a lesbian couple came up to me and said that I persuaded them to continue supporting LMF. I remember going to the celebration about the signing of the law, the afternoon of the celebration I asked Gannon what to wear and she chuckled and said anything you want. I saw what she meant that night women were dressed everything from dresses to jeans and flannel shirts.

Matt is down in New York and is working at an AIDS foundation and Gannon is up in Boston. I am still friends with the former Director of LMF and I am working with her to pass the bill banning Conversion Therapy and worked with her on the Birth Certificate law that passed in 2015.

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