October is LGBTQ History Month and as it comes to a close, HBO Max is releasing their new four-part docuseries called Equal. It highlights unsung heroes, LGBTQ rights activists from the 1950s who lit the path to equality which led to the Stonewall rRots and beyond.
Actors Anthony Rapp, Cheyenne Jackson, Sara Gilbert, and others portray some of the activists. The series weaves their dramatizations in between the use of never-before-seen archival footage.
Rapp told George Whipple he liked the blending of archival footage with their performances.
“As a student of history, and LGBTQ history, I just thought it was an amazing opportunity to find a new and exciting way to bring that history to life.”
Rapp plays activist Harry Hay. In the 1950s, Hay co-founded the first gay rights group in America call “The Mattachine Society.” Rapp applauds Hay’s and others efforts.
“One of the remarkable things about Harry Hay and his contemporaries was he didn't have a version of him to look to. He's the one and and his contemporaries are the ones who did it. They're the ones who have the vision to see that something could change.”
What Hay did for the Gay Rights Movement is not lost on Rapp, who is newly engaged to his partner, Ken. The two plan to tie the knot next year.
“This was a very different era, you know, where the closet was everything and everywhere. So it was really remarkable that he and anyone would dare to come together and start to talk about these things. It was very, you know, private, but it was still planting lots of seeds that are fruit years later.”
The docuseries culminates with the infamous Stonewall Riots in 1969 Greenwich Village.
Rapp said Stonewall has it’s place in history.
“It wasn't like immediately all over the news all over the world. But it became the thing that was the tipping point. I think it's remarkable that Stonewall got landmark status that is protected. Because it is a landmark," Rapp explained.
All four parts of Equal are on HBO Max.