LGBTQ History Comes to Life in HBO Max's Upcoming 'Equal'

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday September 12, 2020

Sara Gilbert as 'J.M. From Cleveland'
Sara Gilbert as 'J.M. From Cleveland'  (Source:HBO Max)

"Equal," a four-part docuseries upcoming on HBO Max, focuses on the lives of trailblazers in LGBTQ history from the turn of the century and into the 1970s after the Stonewall riots, Variety reports.

Combining archival footage never seen before, the series will also feature portrayals of LGBTQ rights activists. Anthony Rapp (Broadway's "Rent") will appear as Harry Hay, founder of the Mattachine Society in the 1950, largely regarded as the first gay rights organization in the US. Sara Gilbert ("Roseanne") plays the anonymous "J.M. from Cleveland," a devout reader of The Ladder, the first newsletter specifically for lesbians. And Cheyenne Jackson stars as Dale Jennings, who co-founded the Mattachine Society, but also the first pro-gay publication in the US, One Magazine.

Also featured, Samira Wiley will feature as Lorraine Hansberry, "the first Black female writer to have her work performed on Broadway when her best known play, "A Raisin in the Sun," opened in 1959 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre." Alexandra Grey and Jamie Clayton will play Lucy Hicks Anderson and Christine Jorgensen, respectively, two transgender women — the former a respected member of her Oxford, Calif. Community until it was discovered she was transgender, and the latter an entertainer, author and activist for transgender rights in the 1950s and 1960s.

"Equal" premiers in October, which is LGBTQ History Month, and is produced in collaboration between Scout Productions ("Queer Eye" series), Berlanti Productions, and Jim Parsons ("Big Bang Theory") and husband Todd Spiewak's That's Wonderful Productions.

For all full rundown of the LGBTQ figures portrayed in "Equal," visit Variety and Deadline.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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