SFGN’s ‘Speak OUT’ is a weekly feature giving a regular voice to South Florida LGBT leaders. 


What are your thoughts on the ABC Miniseries “When We Rise”?


Watching the series was like seeing a movie after having read the book, and, in some of our cases, having written a chapter in the book that got edited out. The series was great, but living the book was better. "When We Rise" told the story of gay liberation in San Francisco, through the eyes of Cleve Jones. The script was beautifully done by Justin Lance Black, and the four episodes were jam packed full of LGBT actors or allies. Even Lexus had an ad that helped normalize gay households. But there are many heroic stories of equal significance not told in the TV series. We have enough material for several films, and my hope is that young people will watch and appreciate all of them.

— Brian McNaught, noted columnist, author and LGBT activist


This brought up emotions and memories.  The series seems well done and as accurate as a television series can be. It’s a good start to share OUR story and timely with the current state of affairs in U.S. government

— Robert Hadley, community activist 


“When We Rise” was an interesting look at the personal and political struggles faced by a number of LGBT activists who pioneered the LGBT rights movement in the 20th century.  One of the pioneers portrayed in “When We Rise” is Gilbert Baker who designed the Rainbow Flag, or Pride Flag.  It was a great honor to present Gilbert with a proclamation in 2013 on behalf of the City of Miami Beach proclaiming that day “Gilbert Baker Day” in Miami Beach.  Having served as the City of Miami Beach’s first and only openly gay elected commissioner, I couldn’t help but reflect on the advances we made in Miami Beach such as starting a Gay Pride in 2009 which will celebrate its 9th year next month in April.

— Michael C. Gongora, former Vice Mayor of Miami Beach 


While I always applaud having LGBT info on TV to educate the masses, I was once again extremely frustrated to see the 45 consecutive years of the lesbian women’s music movement written out of history. There have been thousands of albums released, according to music distributors Ladyslipper and Goldenrod. Since the 1970s, there have been dozens of women’s music festivals and concert venues, all over the country, affecting hundreds of thousands of lesbians (probably millions, if we had a way to count all of us who benefitted). There were lots of radio shows, too. Even a cruise company (Olivia), that still features lesbian entertainment. Apparently the massive subculture that was primarily "by, for, and about lesbians" is worth even a passing mention when white gay men write “our” history. Disappointing at best. I suggest everyone get a copy of Dr. Bonnie Morris’s new book, “The Disappearing L,” which addresses this problem directly.

— Toni Armstrong, Founder/Director of BLAST Women of WPB


Truly inspiring!  I think every LGBTQ youth should see it.  It's great to finally have our stories told. As someone who was alive during this time period and was for the most part oblivious to what was going on...it's great to see the story told.  I just watched episode 3, and as someone who lived through the darkest days of the HIV epidemic here in Miami I am pleased to see part of the history I lived through on the silver screen.

— Luigi Ferrer, bisexual activist and director of health services at Pridelines


I have the show on my DVR and haven’t watched anything since the first episode. I thought that the quality of the writing was weak and heavy-handed and I got swept up all week with events surrounding the daily debacles of the trump administration.  There is an important story to tell and I wish the show had been produced in a documentary format rather than the pseudo-documentary that it attempted. 

— David Jobin, executive director of Our Fund (Supporting LGBT philanthropy) 


I thought it was amazing; having lived in San Francisco and served at the MCC in the Castro for so many years, I really appreciated the focus on the West Coast. I was also struck by how religion and the LGBTQ community were intertwined from the very first moments, in some ways to our detriment, and in others to our empowerment.

— Rev. Dr. Lea Brown, Senior Pastor Metropolitan Community Church of the Palm Beaches


I did watch the first part, and due to work commitments missed the second part. I greatly appreciated seeing the early days of the LGBT civil rights movement portrayed in the first part on a major television network, educating and enlightening viewers. I look forward to watching the second half soon, as that covered the LGBT history I have lived through. I am proud to share in the blessings of liberty of those who have pioneered before me, and because of them, look to find the courage to work towards a more just and equal society for the LGBT community and others.  

— Justin S. Flippen, Wilton Manors Vice Mayor