HBO Max’s ‘Equal’ Shines a Light on Lesser-Known LGBTQ+ Activists

Equal HBO Max Samira Wiley
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Lesser-known activists get their turn in the spotlight with HBO Max’s Equal.

Slain politico Harvey Milk and late agitator Larry Kramer are a few familiar names from the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. However, other unsung yet influential heroes helped lead the charge.

Equal Anthony Rapp HBO Max

(Credit: Courtesy of HBO Max)

This four-episode docuseries (with scripted reenactments) from executive producers Greg Berlanti (You) and Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) aims to “round out characters in order to expand into uncharted places,” says director Stephen Kijak.

He helmed three of the four installments, which dig into early advocacy organizations, transgender history, the Black community’s involvement in the movement and the 1969 Stonewall Riots’ impact. 

Since archival footage for some people and events is scarce, the reenactments help fill in the gaps. Included in the star-studded cast: The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Samira Wiley as lesbian playwright Lorraine Hansberry and Star Trek: Discoverys Anthony Rapp as Harry Hay, founder of the Mattachine Society, one of the earliest gay rights groups.

Says Kijak, “We tried to reinterpret what might have gone on to create more of a living sense of these people.”

Equal, Docuseries Premiere, Thursday, October 22, HBO Max