“Friend, I have thought long on this. And I feel in my heart that it matters not who or how you love, but perhaps…where.” #WhenWeRise

“Identity politics” is one of those labels that say most about the labeler. Used as a pejorative (generally by people who already feel safe in their identity), it implies that causes like race, gender and sexual-orientation rights should be secondary to concerns that — so the argument goes — are more concrete and universal.

‘When We Rise’, ABC’s sweeping four-night history of the gay rights movement, is a rebuttal. As a television drama, it often plays like a high-minded, dutiful educational video. But at its best moments, it’s also a timely statement that identity is not just an abstraction but a matter of family, livelihood, life and death.

The series, airing in four parts beginning Feb. 27, feels particularly urgent, as it follows a group of Americans who are as everyday as it gets—protesters and organizers who struggle to make themselves heard.