Stonewall Movie Erases Trans Women And Black Drag Queens From History

Stonewallfilm

Ask most people who are a part of the LGBT+ community and they will have heard of the phrase Stonewall.  Some will conjure images of the Stonewall organisation, but most will be aware of the historical Stonewall Riots after which the organisation is named.

The Stonewall riots were a series of violent protests against the police by the LGBT+ community in New York in 1969.  Many cite the Stonewall Riots as the single most important event that led to the LGBT+ liberation movement in America, and the foundation upon which all modern LGBT+ rights are founded upon.

The Stonewall Riots have become so recognised as the pivotal LGBT+ equal rights event that in 2013 American President Barack Obama used it in the same sentence as Seneca Falls and Selma, two major points in history for female rights and black rights respectively.

With Stonewall being such a major part of the LGBT+ struggle, and a major piece of modern history it was inevitable that a film about that struggle would be made, especially when LGBT+ rights are such an important battlefield in todays society.

As such today we were given the first full trailer for the film ‘Stonewall’, from Hollywood director Roland Emmerich.

Now, some of you might be excited by that trailer, some of you might be looking forward to seeing the film, but some of you might be quite angry too.  To those that are unaware there is some level of controversy regarding Emmerich’s version of historical events.

The trailer, claiming to be a ‘true story’, tells the audience that a young, white, cisgender, gay man was the first to throw a brick and start the Stonewall Riots.  In truth, real historical truth based on hundreds of eye witness accounts and documented evidence that Roland Emmerich seems to have completely skipped over or simply ignored, the riots were started by black drag queens and transgender women.

Yep, sorry eager film audiences but you’re waiting to watch a lie.  The film that is being depicted as the historical telling of one of the most important moments in LGBT+ history is completely fictitious.  Yes, the riot actually happened, that’s not made up, but everything else in this film appears to be.

stonewall

The two people most credited with sparking the riots and paving the way for modern LGBT+ rights were Marsha P.Johnson, a black drag queen, and Silvia Rivera, a Puerto Rican transgender woman.  It was not a cisgender, white, gay man named Danny.  The two people who are universally recognised as starting the riots aren’t even in the film!

For those of you who might not think that it’s such a big deal, that it’s just Hollywood tweaking a story to make it work on film a little better, shut the hell up!  It is important.  If you went to see the film Selma and they’d cut out Martin Luther King Jr. and instead had the march being led by Mickey Rourke you’d probably think that there’s something wrong there.

Changing history like that is wrong.  Hollywood and Roland Emmerich are trying to take away the accomplishments of these two women, and others like them, and give it to white men, yet again.  Not only is it historically innacurate but its totally god damn disrespectful.

This film is a slap in the face to the people who took part in the riots, who fought in the streets for your right to be treated like a human being.  It’s an insult to the LGBT+ community, to trans people, to drag queens, to women and people of colour.  Hollywood have taken our moment of major historical significance and told us that the only way people will care is with a white man as the hero, that the only way change really happens is if a white man fights for it.  Hollywood’s hero complex at its absolute worst.

Do not support this film, do not promote it, advise it or even go and see it.  It’s a whitewashing, tranphobic piece of cinema that wants to crap on an important historical moment.

Amy.

xx

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Amy Walker

Amy is a journalist and editor contributing the websites Planet Transgender, Gay News Network, The Bottle Episode, The Retro Box and Claire Channel. Amy is also a published comic book writer and letterer.
In addition to her writing Amy has also worked with the Centre For Hate Crime Studies in Leicester and has worked in the capacity of an advisor to the United Nations Entity For Gender Equality and The Empowerment of Women.

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46 Responses to Stonewall Movie Erases Trans Women And Black Drag Queens From History

  1. jim August 5, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    They forgot to mention that a Christian Republican gay white man started the Stonewall riots. And he wore a suit so as not to offend anyone important.

    Reply
  2. marcos August 5, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    The people who started the Stonewall riots were people who stopped complaining and started acting under much more challenging and violent circumstances than we face today. When they rioted, they had the support of the community which is why the riots went on for three days.

    I’d imagine if there were a riot called against this film, that there would be minimal support from the community for the identity/gender theory crowd because these ideas are not widely held outside of a small core.

    Most folks take great pride in persevering over adversity and do not focus on the impediments placed in their way. Academic activism does not seem to get that on-the-ground reality.

    Today’s gender/identity activists would have lost their shit at Stonewall or Compton’s, neither of which were alcohol- and oppression free safe spaces by any measure. Hell, they would have wilted like the delicate flowers they are had they had to grown up and live queer before the mid 1990s.

    Not everyone will like you. Not everyone will buy your schtick. Not everyone will represent you like you want to be represented. It is okay, you will get over it and be stronger.

    Reply
    • Evil August 5, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      The circumstances for queer non-whites and non-cis people (especially trans women) is at least as challenging and violent today as it was then. The only people that have seen significant improvement are white cis folk.

      Thanks for cisplaining the whole deal and brushing it aside as “it gets better” as though you know anything, though.

      You’re no ally of mine if you cannot understand this.

      Reply
  3. woke August 5, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Fuck crackerwood

    Reply
  4. Dawn Chenyang Li August 5, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    This is what I wrote to the author:

    This is generally a good article but your use of “Jackie Chan” as an analogy to “white-washing” is problematic. Jackie Chan is not white but Chinese, Asian and PoC, who also experiences racism at the hands of white people. Perhaps you are ignorant of some of his personal experiences growing up in colonial Hong Kong?

    It is ironic that in an article that protests against “white-washing”, you are essentially “white-washing” Chinese and Asian people and play into the Asian “model minority” stereotype.

    Reply
    • Dawn Chenyang Li August 5, 2015 at 11:54 pm

      Just to say, the author replied to my message to her via PM and modified the article accordingly. I don’t think she was “intentional” about the whole thing anyway.

      Generally it’s a good article highlighting how the Stonewall film is an actual distortion of history.

      Reply
      • Evil August 6, 2015 at 12:49 am

        Dawn I believe your comment is spot-on and thank you for the update. I am relieved that the author read your words and made appropriate changes.

        Reply
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  9. Heather Ridl August 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    BOYCOTT THIS MOVIE, LEARN YOUR HISTORY! !THE QUEENS WERE AT THE FRONT LINE

    Reply
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  34. Dean Anthony August 14, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    You had me in your corner until you told others to “shut the hell up.” If you are trying to help the issue, that’s not the way to do it. It is, however, a great way to act immature, undermine your own article, and make the LGBT community look petty and argumentative. You just perpetuated the stereotype of an angry lesbian. Ultimately, does it really matter who started it? Reminds me of children being told to stop arguing and then saying ” but he started it”!
    You said it is just the Hollywood version of what happened -and, that’s exactly the point. It’s a movie designed for entertainment. Had it been billed as a documentary, I’d understand the discontentment. The real problem here is that people confuse reality and fiction because they use TV, movies, and fictional literary works as learning tools. The lines are too blurry to do that -especially when new generations of young people aren’t taught and don’t have any critical thinking skills (the real problem). Intelligent people just don’t accept anything that they see in a movie.
    Did you ever think that maybe they watered it down to make it palatable for the straights? That helps the LGBT cause as things have to be put to people in a way that they will understand them -otherwise, it falls on deaf ears. The film serves as a great icon of awareness. It gets people interested in something they’d otherwise know nothing or not care about. It’s up to the viewer to, after seeing the movie, seek out information and educate themselves. It’s not the films job to do our homework.

    Reply
    • Amy Walker August 21, 2015 at 10:23 am

      I was giving considered thought to your comment, until you labeled me an angry lesbian. Thanks for assuming that I’m a lesbian, but sadly your very wrong, I’m not. Please don’t go making assumptions about my sexuality.

      Reply
    • Evil August 23, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      You’re so funny! Best satirical reply ever.

      Reply
  35. Evil August 17, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    You’re so funny! Best satirical reply ever.

    Reply
    • Evil August 23, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      (Original comment posted in error.)

      Reply
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