HBO tackles our LGBTQ history

942
Cole Doman as Mark Segal

If you’ve heard the rumor about my book, I’m here to tell you that it’s not a rumor. It’s true, and no one is more surprised than me. So guess I should tell you how it all happened?

About a year ago I got an email from a producer who asked if we could talk about a project based in part on my memoir “And Then I Danced: Traveling The Road To LGBT Equality.” I called him back the next day. I researched him beforehand and discovered that he had been commissioned by The Rolling Stones and David Bowie to direct their film projects.

As soon as we got on the phone, the producer said “I’d like to adapt part of your memoir for an HBO film I’m doing on LGBT history, and you would be played by an actor.” He asked what my conditions would be and I took a mere second to reply that the only condition I had was that the actor playing me had to be hot. I waited for his laugh, which he did. He explained that the company did their research and wanted to get an actor who looked as close as possible to the 18-year-old Mark Segal. The producer said he’d call the casting people and get back to me.  

Within a week they came up with an actor and sent me his picture and resume. When I called the producer back, I recall him saying “believe he meets your request?” I said yes, and Cole Doman was cast as Mark Segal.  

Cole, a New York based actor, turned out to be from Philadelphia. But we had another thing in common: he’s also an out gay man. I would later learn that the project was to include almost all LGBT people among the on screen actors and behind the camera workers.

Over the next couple of months I received emails or calls asking various questions from Cole, and I spoke with him as he read my memoir. Then COVID-19 came, and shut down all of Hollywood.   

Cole was in lockdown in New York as the studio was wondering both  when they would be able to film again and when Cole could get out to the coast.  

But, luckily, as soon as some of the studios were up and safely running in July, they completed the film. Cole and the producer sent me pics from the set. The strangest shot was of the dressing room trailer doors with the names of the characters on them.  So Cole’s dressing room had the name Mark Segal on it, and next door was the dressing room for Sylvia Rivera, who is being played by “POSE” actor Hailie Sahar.

The show is called “Equal,” and it will run on HBO MAX in October for LGBT History Month.  It’s a humbling experience, and I appreciate the folks at HBO for having sensitivity in telling my small part of LGBT history.