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Greg Berlanti, Jim Parsons to produce LGBTQ history series ‘Equal’

Jim Parsons Equal documentary series

Bayard Rustin, left, mentored Martin Luther King, Jr., and was the architect for King’s March on Washington. Rustin also was gay and did not live in the closet. Photo: Monroe Frederick, courtesy of the Estate of Bayard Rustin.

Producer Greg Berlanti and actor Jim Parsons will team up and produce “Equal,” a four-part LGBTQ history series for HBO Max that will showcase some of the early pioneers, leaders, and activists in the movement for justice, equality and civil rights, the steaming channel announced.

Each hour-long episode will feature interviews, re-enactments, and never before seen footage.

HBO Max is scheduled to launch spring 2020. No broadcast has yet been announced for “Equal.”

“In June, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which shepherded in a new era for LGBTQ+ pride,” Jennifer O’Connell, executive vice president of original non-fiction and kids programming for HBO Max, said in a statement.

“While we know the story behind that fateful summer night, there’s a lot of fascinating, untold history of the patriots, artists, and thinkers who paved the way,” O’Connell said. “It’s time to share their heroic tales.”

Bayard Rustin documentary, ‘Bayard & Me,’ tells his love story with Walter Naegle

Here are the trailblazers who will be profiled in the series:

  • Harry Hay, a gay rights activist who was a founding member, along with his boyfriend, Rudi Gernreich, of The Mattachine Society, the first gay rights group in the United States. The group was founded in Silver Lake in 1950.
  • The Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian civil and political rights organization in the United States. It was founded in San Francisco in 1955.
  • Christine Jorgensen, a transgender woman who flew to Europe in 1951 to undergo sex reassignment surgery and publicly transitioned
  • Bayard Rustin, the renowned African American leader who championed civil rights for the gay community. Rustin also was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mentor and architect of King’s March on Washington.

Part four will chronicle The Stonewall Riots from start to finish as well as the first Pride that took place in 1970, the year after Stonewall.

“Equal” will be produced under Warner Horizon Unscripted TV’s new documentary unit.

Greg Berlanti and Jim Parsons will executive produce via their respective production companies, Berlanti Productions and That’s Wonderful Productions.

Berlanti Productions has a record-breaking 19 scripted series across seven different networks, the highest number of shows to air at one time. Series produced under Berlanti Productions include CW’s “Riverdale,” “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Supergirl,” “Black Lightning,” “All American,” “Batwoman”; DC Universe’s “Titans,” “Doom Patrol”; NBC’s “Blindspot”; Netflix’s “You,” “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”; Fox’s “Prodigal Son.”

Mike Darnell, president of unscripted and alternative at Warner Bros., will oversee alongside Brooke Karzen.

Scout Productions’ David Collins, Michael Williams (“The Fog of War”), Rob Eric (“Queer Eye”) and Joel Chiodi will exec produce, as will Berlanti Productions executive Sarah Schechter.

Parsons’ husband and That’s Wonderful partner Todd Spiewak and Raintree Ventures’ Jon Jashni (“Lost in Space”) will also exec produce.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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