Local LGBTQ advocates reflect on national miniseries

For the first time since 'Roots' 40 years ago, ABC is launching a television miniseries focused on social issues, with the title When We Rise.

The TV series, four years in the making, features struggles of the LGBTQ community and women during the civil rights movement in 1970s San Francisco. It just so happens to make its debut a week after transgender bathroom protections were revoked under the Trump Administration.

It is a struggle Keri Lobdell of Richland says she knows well.

"Anytime that I feel like I need some extra strength for the day or I want some good vibes, I wear these,” she smiles, indicating her rainbow striped socks. “It's funny how many compliments I get on these [rainbow] earrings, [too].”

Lobdell joined PFLAG Benton Franklin in 2009 when she learned of LGBTQ youth suicide rates, which are about five times higher than other youth.

“Broke my heart,” she says. “And I have been active in supporting ever since."

Although not LGBTQ herself, Lobdell, a Christian, fights for a better future.

"I don't know how you can't be," she says.

Since 2009, Lobdell has seen a big boost in local advocacy.

"If your school doesn't have some sort of organization that is LGBTQ focused, that is actually not the norm anymore,” she says.

Jennifer Goulet is an activist and president of Tri-City Freethinkers. She is LGBT and often joins the frontlines in Eastern Washington.

“In our current political climate, now more than ever, it is so important for all marginalized groups to stand together,” says Goulet.

Over the last year, Goulet has voiced strong support for the LGBTQ community through the Arlene’s Flowers lawsuit. She also fought a religious freedom resolution in the city of Pasco, which targeted same-sex marriage.

Both cases ended in wins for the LGBTQ community, and according to Goulet, they were wins for equality.

"Because you never know when it will be you,” she says. “If you’re Jewish, it could be you next.”

When We Rise also takes on the fight, showing stories of real people and families impacted by riots and oppression, with star appearances by Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell, among others.

"It's good to know there were people who came before,” says Lobdell. “And that this has been a process and a part of a bigger movement."

Lobdell adding, the series serves as a reminder of how far there is still to go to lock down protections for LGBTQ people.

“Now I have tons of friends that are LGBTQ,” Lobdell smiles. “And I can't imagine my life without them."

As the When We Rise preview fades to black, seven simple words reverberate: "Whoever you are, you are not alone."


When We Rise airs on KAPP-KVEW ABC from 9 to 11 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday during the week of February 27, 2017.