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.
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.