LGBT millennials face new challenges, reflect on struggle for equality

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Epic mini-series "When We Rise" tracks the birth of the '70s gay rights movement and beyond, which began in the Bay Area. The LGBT community has changed a lot in four decades. Millennials have new causes, passions, and dreams.

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Doug Deorsey checks-in on social media from San Francisco state where he's going to nursing school. He grew up in rural Illinois and came out when he was 16.

He boldly took his boyfriend to the high school homecoming dance. After visiting the Bay Area five years ago, he never looked back. "I looked around, that neighborhood has a rainbow pride flag, that neighborhood has a rainbow pride flag," he said. "I can wear a tight t-shirt. I want to stay here lol."

Deorsey got engaged last summer to his boyfriend Michael Burnias. The two, now fast-tracking a wedding, fear a new administration in Washington could jeopardize marriage equality.

"When we have something that's threatened of being taken away it reminds us how precious it is," said Burnias.

For single, gay men the invention of PrEP has created a new sexual revolution.

Robyn Exton was frustrated looking for love and friendship and launched "Her," a dating app for lesbian and bisexual women, now with two million users worldwide. Millennials are the prime users.

"The great thing about apps and technology, it moves all of those barriers," Exton said. "You download it and explore."

The Castro, where the fight for gay rights began, has changed a lot in 40 years. There are subtle tributes to the man who led the fight including Harvey Milk's bullhorn inside the LGBT museum.

Activist Cleve Jones fears the AIDS crisis in the 80s and 90s has become ancient history. "Sometimes when I talk to young people about the era their eyes g o blank," he told ABC7 News. "They just can't comprehend it."

Juliana Delgado-Lopera gets it. She's a queer artist who is honoring those who fought, lived and died during the crisis with a photo exhibit in the Castro. "It's really inspiring, especially now, looking back at how people were organizing around the epidemic," she said.

For some, that activism has been replaced by new struggles for transgender rights and equality for all.

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"But I do see light, and I do see hope and moments of resistance and moments of greatness," said Delgado-Lopera.

Click here for more of ABC7 News' stories, photos, and video on "When We Rise."
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