SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --ABC7 News spoke with Ken Jones, a local activist, whose battle wasn't just in favor of equality, but vice and racism as well.
"I smile whenever I see the crosswalk; I mean where else can you see a rainbow colored crosswalk," Jones said.
Today, Jones marvels at what San Francisco's Castro District has become. It is much different than the neighborhood he first came to in the early 1970s.
"Particularly for me it was a challenge because there weren't that many other men of color in this neighborhood and for good reason, we were pretty well treated as second class citizens," Jones said.
Jones is the inspiration for a character in "When We Rise." The four-part miniseries on ABC 7 follows four activists over nearly five decades of fighting for LGBT equality.
Jones was an early advocate of ways to prevent the spread of HIV.
"For black gay men it is hard to find your support network," Jones said.
He has long been an advocate for gay black men who are still disportionally impacted by the disease, largely because of their sexuality.
"It is as though every system has thrown up a brick wall in front of you. My heart grieves when I think of those damn black kids that just don't have hope," Jones said.
That is one of the reasons he decided to share his story. Jones is proud to share that he is a veteran, black, openly gay and a survivor of HIV. It wasn't an easy road.
He says his spirituality saved him.
"How do you hope that this miniseries on ABC strikes people?" Dan asked.
"God created me just like I am, there are no imperfections, what he needed me to do was rise and own that difference," Jones said.
He says future generations of LGBT people need to understand the fight previous generations fought.
"I often say, it's like work in a garden, it's never done. Every generation needs to hear the story again and again about just how absolutely horrible things were for us," Jones said.
Horrible then, and thankfully changing now.