#ciswashing #whitewashing #Stonewall
August 5, 2015 8:12 PM   Subscribe

"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."
posted by Urban Winter (112 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
a young, white, cisgender, gay man was the first to throw a brick and start the Stonewall Riots

fuck the fuck off. (Not you, the filmmaker). If it weren't for some drag queens and trans women and bull dykes, many of them people of colour, this white cis dude wouldn't have the freedom I have now to be as gay as I want to be.

Just fuck off forever.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:15 PM on August 5, 2015 [99 favorites]


Hollywood rewriting history to retell the story through a bankable, status quo-affirming white male hero?

This is my surprised face.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:18 PM on August 5, 2015 [51 favorites]


This is the same German filmmaker who tried to normalize the war crimes committed by SS troops in WWII by having redcoats ahistorically commit the same atrocities in The Patriot.
posted by thecjm at 8:21 PM on August 5, 2015 [21 favorites]


All the trans people of color that die every year in this country, and to ignore their contributions to LGBT history like this?

That's bullshit!
posted by oceanjesse at 8:33 PM on August 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


If you'd rather watch something that's not a horrible lie: Happy Birthday, Marsha is an upcoming film about about Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

I backed the Kickstarter last year and haven't heard much since. Their project page says they were aiming to have the film done by September of this year. Who knows when it will actually be done, but I hope it's on time because I'd sure like to be able to say "watch this instead of Stonewall."
posted by Banknote of the year at 8:36 PM on August 5, 2015 [13 favorites]




Oh look, it's that movie about Alan Turing all over again...I wonder if this one will make me want to vomit and smash things. Nope, I think I will not ever watch this not even once.
posted by trackofalljades at 8:39 PM on August 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


The freedom not to have your gender and sexuality speculated about is worth throwing a few bricks.
posted by adept256 at 8:44 PM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really wanted to like this, but just . . . no.

I see a bad outcome here. Gay viewers and allies learn from the internet that this is BS, and stay away in droves. Bigoted viewers stay away anyhow. The low-information viewers in the middle aren't enough to make back the projected amounts. In the future, the big executives refuse to fund a serious gay-led or trans-led movie, because look at how Stonewall did.

Also, why Roland Emmerich, I wonder? Is a giant wave going to sweep between the streets?
posted by Countess Elena at 8:44 PM on August 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'd go to a Michael Bay Stonewall movie. Just explosions everywhere but I'd feel like there'd be a Carol Burnette like ear-tug hidden in there somewhere.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 8:47 PM on August 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


I would watch a Stephen Chow directed Stonewall movie.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:52 PM on August 5, 2015 [16 favorites]


I would like to say I'm going to boycott this but I see like 1 movie in theaters every three years so I don't really think I can take credit for something that would most likely have occurred anyway.
posted by PMdixon at 9:11 PM on August 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Another relevant movie in the works is Major, about a trans African American woman who was at Stonewall. Miss Major is a friend and a hero worth supporting.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:12 PM on August 5, 2015 [26 favorites]


They already made a movie about Stonewall -- all fictionalised, but with trans and non-gender conforming characters, and the first brick is thrown by a black trans woman.

We should all just go watch that one again.
posted by jb at 9:23 PM on August 5, 2015 [17 favorites]


Twitter sums up my feelings

@dreamoforgonon: The worst thing about the Stonewall movie is we're all going to talk about it for months and Roland Emmerich is poolside with some catamite. Roland Emmerich: *drops an atom bomb onto LGBT internet*
Roland Emmerich: More grapes, Ganymede!
Youth: My name is--
Emmerich: MORE.
posted by The Whelk at 9:29 PM on August 5, 2015 [26 favorites]


Two (somewhat esoteric) documentaries to watch instead of the trailer: posted by Going To Maine at 9:38 PM on August 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm confused by "cisgender, gay man". Isn't that a contradiction in terms? I thought "cisgender" was a politically correct term for "heterosexual".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:06 PM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


“Cisgender” means that your gender matches that assigned at birth. (Contra trans and other minority gender identities.)
posted by Going To Maine at 10:09 PM on August 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


"Heterosexual" is the politically correct term for straight people. Like homosexual, bi, gay, and lesbian, they all deal with one's attraction.

Cisgender and transgender deal with gender identity, and whether it matches physical sex.

This chart may help; cis/trans is a function of the top row, whereas gay/straight is the bottom row.
posted by qcubed at 10:15 PM on August 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Movie execs, call me, let’s do this.

FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD: A seat-gripping drama showing the grit of one woman determined to lead slaves into the north, but instead of starring Harriet Tubman, it stars a blonde girl named Jessica.

SI, SE PUEDE!: The heart-swelling tale of one man’s powerful struggle to unionize farm laborers across America, but instead of starring Cesar Chavez, it stars an affable guy named Bradley.

LET FREEDOM RING: A stirring look into the heroic crossing of the icy Delaware river as our courageous founders dared to break the chains of British rule, but instead of starring George Washington, it stars a bright-eyed, standard poodle named Bubbles.
posted by missmary6 at 10:21 PM on August 5, 2015 [84 favorites]




Huh. So many weirdnesses on so many levels in that trailer. Seems like the screenwriter (based on his credits and past interviews) would have known better, but maybe he was told that the only way that his script would fly was if he changed the lead into a clean-scrubbed apple-cheeked white-boy extra from Spring Awakening or Newsies and made only all the ancillary characters look like extras from Hair. But yeah, bizarre.

OTOH, this is Hollywood. The same Hollywood that brought us Mississippi Burning, The Help, Cruising, The Boys in the Band, and as someone above mentioned, The Imitation Game ...... not to mention the same production company that brought us The Patriot, What Women Want, and Independence Day.
posted by blucevalo at 10:23 PM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]




On one hand: fuck these assholes.
On the other hand: Never expect anything less than a godawful, stupendously offensive and appropriative mess from Hollywood and you will never be disappointed.

This chart may help; cis/trans is a function of the top row, whereas gay/straight is the bottom row.

That dude is an appropriating jerk, though, sadly, who is not trans and swiped a lot of the work already done by other people who are actually trans.

Please remember the is from a director who believes in a vast conspiracy where the person who wrote Shakespeare's plays was a nobleman who got a poxy drunk actor named Shakesperare to take the credit for his plays but also didn't know the red and white Tudor Rose symbol wasn't a literal rose.

Ugh, Clare Asquith's take is so much cooler, why doesn't someone make a movie about her Shakespeare conspiracy theory?
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 10:57 PM on August 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wait no I can't find the original Twitter account now, but it went

"these don't look like people who are upset that Judy Garland died."
posted by The Whelk at 11:08 PM on August 5, 2015 [23 favorites]


Just a little bit about the background in the Big Roy McCarthy interview — He spends a lot of time ragging on the Mattachine Society, and it's interesting because it's part of two axes of historical antagonism in the LGBT community. The first is the assimilationist versus radical line, with the Mattachines very much assimilationists who were trying to avoid the Red Scare conflation of homosexuality with communism — especially since Harry Hay was both gay and as red as a Rosenberg (which is why the Mattachine chapters were modeled on Communist cells). The second axis is the East Coast versus West Coast LGBT communities — which mirrors lots of East Coast/West Coast cultural conflicts, with the stereotype of New Yorkers claiming credit for everything and the West Coast (especially LA) being a wasteland of squares and flakes.

So you see things like a lot of West Coast LGBT folks, including Hay, complaining about being eclipsed by "Stonewall" the moment, especially when you have the Black Cat demonstrations/riot a couple years earlier in LA. Even within the LA community, the tension between assimilationist and liberationist groups was present — the Mattachines helped with the legal defense of the people arrested at the Black Cat (part of an ongoing legal focus for the Mattachines) while a new, openly liberationist group called PRIDE was the one turning out the young demonstrators and doing a lot of the grassroots fundraising. But by the time of Stonewall, Harry Hay had rejected the Mattachine assimilationist strategy and was one of the first to argue for the idea of a distinct LGBT culture. Hay's dig wasn't that Stonewall set the gays back, it was that New York was finally catching up. He was one of the founders of the LA chapter of the Gay Liberation Front just months after Stonewall spawned the original New York chapter. He went on to found the Radical Faeries.

It's also worth noting that by 1969, even the Mattachines were more inclusive and less assimilationist — their newsletter immediately after Stonewall both praised the riots and specifically noted that the significance of Stonewall as a bar was that it was a haven for folks who couldn't get into the more mainstream gay bars.
"[Stonewall Inn] catered largely to a group of people who are not welcome in, or cannot afford, other places of homosexual social gathering.... The Stonewall became home to these kids. When it was raided, they fought for it. That, and the fact that they had nothing to lose other than the most tolerant and broadminded gay place in town, explains why [riots occurred]."
So while McCarthy's right that it was trans women who acted first — that's pretty well documented — his recollections of some significant points of history are pretty off. At the very least, his complaints about Hay are pretty much the opposite of a lot of documented history — it's kind of hard to complain that Hay was too assimilationist when a big part of why he (and by extension, West Coast LGBT advocates who were often seen through the lens of Harry Hay) got downplayed in the political-historical record was that he was a very vocal advocate of including NAMBLA in gay culture right about the time that HRC and other mainstream, assimilationist organizations were taking over from the more radical GLF/Act Up activists who were devastated by the AIDS crisis.
posted by klangklangston at 12:12 AM on August 6, 2015 [32 favorites]


"a young, white, cisgender, gay man was the first to throw a brick and start the Stonewall Riots"

Can't the director at least find a way to make him a blonde, bi-questioning artist? And to have an epic romance with a young, white female heiress, who he exposes to a whole exciting new world of singing, dancing LGBT-friendly commoners?

And for those who have a problem with a lack of minorities cast in the film, they could cast a black, sadistic cross-dresser as the villain, who would chase the hero through the middle of the Stonewall riots with a gun.

And at the end, our pure, blonde hero could sacrifice his life to save hers... so she could survive and so a white, heterosexual female could live to tell us the true meaning of Stonewall.

Where's James Cameron when you need him?!
posted by markkraft at 12:26 AM on August 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


That dude is an appropriating jerk, though, sadly, who is not trans and swiped a lot of the work already done by other people who are actually trans.

Not only that, but the chart fucking sucks. It's essentialist as fuck (it actually outright says "Female = vagina" and "male = penis" on it), has a simplistic-to-the-point-of-wrong (and offensive) definition and relation to the concept of sex (it sets up a system whereby you can totally be a trans woman, and a woman, but you're still biologically male! So not a woman really...) It defines 'gender identity' as being a product of your hormones (what. the. fuck??) I could go on. The chart fucking sucks.

'cisgender' means 'not transgender'. It's that simple. We do not need the 'pronounced metrosexual' arsehole to explain that.
posted by Dysk at 12:39 AM on August 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


"I know I have the body of a weak, feeble poodle; but I have the heart and stomach of someone who does not particularly like a king"
posted by biffa at 1:08 AM on August 6, 2015 [14 favorites]


To be fair, klangklangston, ACT-UP was created BECAUSE of the devastation of the AIDS crisis, and while many who were in ACT-UP did die of the disease, it's hard to put them on the same level of fore-runner to modern gay activism as the GLF, which was formed around 1969 or 1970 and had basically disbanded by 1973 or so. ACT-UP still continues its activities even today.
posted by hippybear at 2:15 AM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


The silver lining of this shitshow? It'll be the first time lots of people hear about Johnson and Rivera, the term 'whitewashing' will pick up more traction, as will the term 'cisgender' (as we see in this thread). I know it's easy to get tired by the 'outrage cycle', but there's important educational work that gets done when things like this happen, and the clear wrongness of this movie on so many levels makes it's critical (and satirical) demolition that much easier to express to a wider audience. Sure, not everyone will get it, and Emmerich et al won't feel a hint of it, but there'll be a few people for who this is an 'aha!' moment.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 3:09 AM on August 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


"Catamite". Love that word.

I was pretty excited when I first heard about this movie, having only heard tales of Stonewall from gay men a generation older than me, and learned about it at a time when I really needed to believe you could fight the cops and win, and gain any ground at all against the status quo. Shame the Big Production Number is this. But thanks to those of you who posted alternate resources in this thread.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:41 AM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ugh... that trailer was barfy for more than the whitewashing.

Hollywood movie comes out in September. I'd love to see September screenings of the other movies mentioned in this thread so I could go to those instead.
posted by zennie at 5:08 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's interesting now that Stonewall has become "the" gathering place for the queer movement in times of extreme importance (SCOTUS decisions, etc.) This year, Decision Day fell on on the same afternoon as the Trans Day of Visibility, and the TDOV march featured many speakers who noted the contrast between the people who were celebrating the marriage victory and those who were still fighting for the right to exist.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:15 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to jump in and say, for Chocolate Pickle or anyone else following along at home: you can be both trans and gay/queer/lesbian/bi. It only makes sense - gender and sexual orientation are different; there are a lot of, for instance, trans men and naturally some of those trans men are going to be attracted to men both pre- and post-coming out/gender alignment/transition.

There is a popular, homophobic and transphobic (though frequently held in ignorance) narrative of transness that goes "straight>>gay/lesbian>>trans", as if you just get gayer and gayer (or more and more lesbian) until you fall off into actually being a different gender. Not only does this obscure anyone who is nonbinary, etc, but it also assumes that being trans is the ultimate form of being gay or lesbian - that being gay, for instance, is sort of effeminate and then you become so effeminate that you have to be a woman. You can see how this manages to insult the identities of everyone involved.

Lou Sullivan, for example, was a gay trans man activist who did a tremendous amount of work for trans men (and trans people generally) in the Bay Area before his death from AIDS in 1991.

Chocolate Pickle, I apologize if you know this already - I wanted to add it here because I've encountered the belief that you can't be both gay/lesbian/bi/queer/etc and trans among fairly sophisticated, decent people who actually know queer trans people.
posted by Frowner at 5:33 AM on August 6, 2015 [14 favorites]


I am sad yet happy Angelique is in it.
posted by Kitteh at 5:43 AM on August 6, 2015




The presence of drag queens should be noted in light of a recent attempt to ban them from a pride parade.

There are complicated issues there with potential mockery of women and possible offensiveness to trans people. However, crossdressers are people who have found themselves a part of this community for a reason. Lots of people who crossdress have experienced anti-gay or anti-trans attacks even if they are straight and cis themselves. They are not free to express this aspect of their personality, they have to hide it or face negative judgement from society. They deserve pride too, and they have always been there to fight for it.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:45 AM on August 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Great, The Whelk- now I'm picturing Roland Emmerich as Hedonismbot.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:56 AM on August 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


OTOH, this is Hollywood. The same Hollywood that brought us Mississippi Burning, The Help, Cruising, The Boys in the Band, and as someone above mentioned, The Imitation Game ...... not to mention the same production company that brought us The Patriot, What Women Want, and Independence Day.

Wait...what's wrong with The Boys in the Band? It's a pretty faithful film version of the play script, which was definitely not Hollywood. (Another movie I need to rewatch - so many great queer films were made in the 1970s-1990s).
posted by jb at 6:04 AM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I stage directed an Atlanta production of The Boys in the Band years ago. The play itself may have stereotypes, sure, but I agree with jb, it wasn't Hollywood by a long shot.
posted by Kitteh at 6:10 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Boys in the Band and Cruising were directed by Friedkin.
posted by octothorpe at 6:14 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


there are a lot of, for instance, trans men and naturally some of those trans men are going to be attracted to men both pre- and post-coming out/gender alignment/transition.

Yup! I dated a trans guy briefly and he told me it was super weird realigning from straight boys to queer boys, it was a whole new universe for him. Ditto a BAMF of a trans woman I knew out west who was lesbian, she said it took a lot to wrap her head around lesbian culture. (Not to mention major issues with acceptance from them, sigh.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:23 AM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Jenkins boys were drumming softly on their congas to the hot breezy mood of the night air. Directly under the street lamp was an old beat-up folding card table where the Fletchers and the Andersons, lifelong friends and neighbors, were shouting over a game of bid whist.

The sight of Dupree galloping up the block toward us abruptly interrupted the calm of the first hour of Saturday 28 June. Dupree stopped in front of the gaming table and yelled out: ‘The pigs across the bridge are beating up on Black faggots – right now!’

Cissy Anderson, who was just moments from throwing in her hand to go to bed, let out a bloodcurdling scream that shook us and brought a momentary halt to everything. Nate Anderson grabbed his wife to comfort her and said, ‘Cissy, calm down.’

Greenwich Village in the 1800s had housed the largest population for former slaves in the country. But gentrification forced racial relocation and led to Harlem becoming the Mecca of Black America.

Dupree’s message was particularly for the Anderson’s at the game table. Their son Birdie, who sang like a beautiful songbird, was more than likely in the melee across the bridge. Everyone knew Birdie was gay, and we would wonder where he and his ‘brother-girls’, as he dubbed them, had gone the night before when they laughed and spoke in code on Sundays about their exploits while robing-up for choir.

Cissy detested that her eldest, Nate Turner ‘Birdie’ Anderson Junior, went outside the community to a white neighborhood to be himself. Nate Senior also worried about his eldest son. When Birdie told his dad he was gay, his father asked him if he understood that he didn’t know how to keep him safe, especially if his son wandered out of his purview.

Nate Senior told us: ‘My son is somewhere there and I need you all to help me find him and bring him home safely to his mother and me.


That piece that zennie linked - is short but amazing.

Over my life I have been passingly and sometimes fairly deeply involved in a few radical/revolutionary movements and moments. Then I've read a lot of histories of those things, news coverage, etc, and it's always stupid and unrecognizable, because it's always written from this perspective that....I don't know, change is bad, people are always selfish, individual towering heroes are the most important, social change leads to the gulag, etc. And the need to fit everything that happens into an easy-to-understand narrative.

There's this Seth Tobocman cartoon from War In The Neighborhood (a graphic novel about gentrification which you should read if you ever get the chance, but it's very hard to find - and I lost my copy) about how in the revolutionary moment is when people can be their best. That is what I've found to be true, that people can, in those moments, act with incredible courage, decency and clarity. They can also betray each other and fuck people over, of course, but on balance I've found that people are better in the moment.

What falls away, I guess, is what Eliot is talking about in "The Hollow Men" - the shadow of death and fear -
"Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow"

That's one reason why I kind of hate all these films - even Pride, which on one level I quite enjoyed. They obscure these times when people really did act well and turn them into motivational productions to make us better citizens and reassure us that everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds - they kill the spirit.
posted by Frowner at 6:38 AM on August 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Dysk:

Do you have links to a better chart that I can just send to people as a primer? I've been looking for one for ages and as odd as that one is, I got nothing.
posted by qcubed at 6:42 AM on August 6, 2015


Yup! I dated a trans guy briefly and he told me it was super weird realigning from straight boys to queer boys, it was a whole new universe for him. Ditto a BAMF of a trans woman I knew out west who was lesbian, she said it took a lot to wrap her head around lesbian culture. (Not to mention major issues with acceptance from them, sigh.)

The majority of my trans women friends/acquaintances are primarily attracted to women, actually. For a transmasculine person, I don't actually know that many trans guys - although I assume this will change as I move toward, I dunno, actually transitioning - so my sample size is small.

I think there's "different social circles" stuff in play - I mostly spend time in really specifically feminist, trans-positive spaces that tend to be majority women and majority femme, and I infer that trans men tend to filter away to more dude-majority spaces, especially gay trans guys. That's something I worry about a little bit for myself, because while I know I can still spend time in my current social circle, I think things will change, and I don't know if I'm ready for dude spaces. Plus I have not been overwhelmingly impressed with most of the ones I've been in in terms of being feminist, and I'm a little worried that I'll end up meeting a bunch of trans bros. (The trans men I actually know are not bros, but I tend to know them from "and here is this random trans guy" contexts rather than from community situations.)
posted by Frowner at 7:06 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess there's a different take these days on The Boys in the Band and Cruising than there was when I was in my salad days, when they were held up as examples of how not to portray gays in film. I'll have to watch them again and re-evaluate ......
posted by blucevalo at 7:13 AM on August 6, 2015




If it weren't for some drag queens and trans women and bull dykes, many of them people of colour, this white cis dude wouldn't have the freedom I have now to be as gay as I want to be.

Well, there are certainly white cis drag queens and white cis bull dykes.

Cristian William's linked piece at transadvocate.com seems to be misleading in a similar fashion. By the time we got down there, the paddy wagon had just pulled up. The queens were just starting to come out and someone had just thrown a high heel. There may have been coins or whatever, but I was there within a couple minutes after the festivities started. I did see high heels flying! The queens — the transgenders or the crossdressers — were yelling something from across the street by the paddy wagon; they were yelling at the cops. We were cheering on the transgenders — the crossdressers — it just sort of snowballed from there.

This account seems to conflate queens, transgenders and crossdressers as those are three words for the same people, rather than the name of three overlapping groups.

I think one of the things that makes it easy to erase the transgender contribution from the gay liberation struggle of the 60s and 70s is that many of the early activists did not initially identify as transgender. Silvia Rivera did not, when I first met her. The "T" in her early group "STAR" stood for "Transvestite," not transgender.
posted by layceepee at 7:41 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but we're not even talking about a film that misses the nuance between someone who identified as a cross-dresser or transvestite who might now call themselves a transgender woman. We're talking about an imaginary white gay guy named Danny.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:43 AM on August 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


the same production company that brought us The Patriot, What Women Want, and Independence Day.

One of these things seems not like the other. How did Independence Day erase the contributions of trans and people of color (other than not having any LGBT supporting characters)? Genuinely curious.
posted by TrishaLynn at 7:48 AM on August 6, 2015


TrishaLynn, I'm pretty sure Harvey Fierstein was gay.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:58 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but we're not even talking about a film that misses the nuance between someone who identified as a cross-dresser or transvestite who might now call themselves a transgender woman. We're talking about an imaginary white gay guy named Danny.

I wasn't trying to defend the movie. I haven't watched the trailer because I'm not interested, and don't have any idea whether the movie is a fairly close historical account or a gross misrepresentation. But if we're talking about a white gay guy named Danny who was a veteran of the Stonewall Riots, it's not necessarily a figment of anyone's imagination--it may well be Danny Garvin.

And it is true that some of the drag queens who fought against cops at Stonewall would now identify as transgender, there were also drag queens like white, cis-gendered Martin Boyce. In the fight to include the transgender individuals and people of color who were a key part of the uprising, we don't need to minimize the presence of other folks.
posted by layceepee at 8:04 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I do not believe the character of "Danny", who seems to be from a rural town in this movie, is Danny Garvin, who grew up in Inwood.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:08 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think you're kinda missing the point layceepee, and maybe if you have no interest in watching the trailer I'm a bit puzzled as to why your opinion on it is even a thing. The point is, minimizing and/or erasing the presence of the people of colour and the transgender people and the lesbians has been going on since 1969. Literally nobody is saying we should be minimizing the presence of the cis/white people there. We are saying we need to stop erasing everybody else. Presenting the hero of the riots as a white cis gay boy who is completely fictional is literally erasing the actual people who threw the first high heels.

Go read the second linked article.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:11 AM on August 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


The identity of the instigator as "young, white, cisgender" isn't wrong by some accounts. I read an account in the early 90's that collected primary sources on Stonewall, and at least one witness recalled a young, male white or Latin guy in jeans and a white t-shirt who was yelling things like "why do you faggots let the cops push you around?" and eventually threw a rock.

I can't for the life of me recall what I was reading, but I do know that I tended to accept this anecdote as fact for years because I saw it corroborated by a quote from another witness in Leigh Rutledge's book "Unnatural Quotations."

As an adult, I recognize that human recall is flawed and the event was too big for any observer to cover completely. And people sometimes lie about having been present for seminal events-- how many people claimed to be at Woodstock beyond what was possible?

I suspect the actual story is that there is no single event that started it-- a lot of things contributed to it. I do know that the event is question didn't originate with the filmmaker, though I don't have an opinion on how true it is.
posted by Mayor Peace Love and Unity at 8:18 AM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


The forced, insulting and wholly unnecessary shoehorning of a fictional cis white guy into the story is sad, and basically a tacit acknowledgement that the cis white guy will remain The Narrator for any historic event portrayed cinematically, no matter who was actually at the flashpoint. That's what bothers me about this. It becomes this self-rationalizing tautology: we used the white cis guy as the entry point because audiences are used to having stories told to them by cis white guys.

Also, not to minimize this, but I'm really surprised #stonewashed hasn't become a thing from this. I mean, everyone hates stonewash, right?
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:25 AM on August 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


even the gays were wearing stonewashed jeans in the 90s
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:26 AM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Those were different, confusing times for everyone I guess.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:27 AM on August 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


The script was written by Jon Robin Baitz, not Emmerich. (Emmerich didn't write The Patriot, either.) It's released by Roadside Attractions, and the production company is Emmerich's company. Both the writer and director are gay.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:51 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it possible that they foregrounded a white man from rural wherever who becomes radicalized over time as a way of increasing tolerance of LGBT stuff? Like, to speak to people from more socially conservative parts of America in a way that gets them identifying with the main character and thus then leaving more sympathetic to LGBT rights? I know when I was organizing, the media guys would usually try to put more "clean cut" organizers in front of the camera for similar reasons.
posted by corb at 8:58 AM on August 6, 2015


It's way, way more likely that they foregrounded a Midwest cis white guy because of trans erasure. The gay cis male world has literally been doing this since the riots happened; in a way we co-opted what was really a riot about trans/non-gender-conforming rights and made it ours.

No wait it's not way more likely, that is actually what happened. Gay men wrote, directed, and produced a story that isn't about them and made it about them anyway. See What Women Want as the exact same thing; they made the story about a man, instead of being about women and what women actually want. It was about what men tell women they want.

So, no. There is no chance whatsoever that this was some clever subversive way to sneak queer people in under Middle America's radar. It's just not.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:05 AM on August 6, 2015 [14 favorites]


I disagree. You just have to remember that "accessible" in this case means "butts in seats". No one ever went wrong accusing Hollywood of selling out.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:08 AM on August 6, 2015


(A completely willing sellout, I should add. I don't think many tears were shed over this.)
posted by Going To Maine at 9:10 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Accessible maybe? As some sort of "oh we're going to make up a cis white dude as the hero of an actual historical event because that way we can get more conservatives to love the gays" thing? Yeah, no. It's cis gay privilege all over the place. They foregrounded the cis guy because they're (presumably!) cis guys.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:12 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


feckless fecal fear mongering, I did read the second article. In fact, I quoted from it and commented on it. As I said, I don't think claims like this are accurate: It was four transgendered people who saved my butt! At the time they were called crossdressers as opposed to drag queens. Drag Queen was a regular guy – gay or straight – who dressed up as a woman to perform a show. Crossdressers – or transgenders as now – were 24 hrs. Transvestite would dress up to go out to a club, be they were not necessarily performers…they would just dress up to go out to a club.

Compere that with Stonewall veteran Martin Boyce's recollection of his motives for cross dressing: “In 1966, I was extremely frustrated with the way gays were treated,” Mr. Boyce said. “That’s why I went into scare drag—not because there was a need to or because there was a woman inside of me. I just thought, like they did in Hollywood, you should emphasize and at least get a reaction from these people.”

Per your claim that Literally nobody is saying we should be minimizing the presence of the cis/white people there, , that's a fair description of what the first article does.

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.

Where's any acknowledgment of participation cis/white people in that account? Similarly, your description of Stonewall as really a riot about trans/non-gender-conforming rights erases the experience of many of the people at the Stonewall that night and others who participated in the uprising in the following days. Where's someone like Bob Kohler, one of Silvia Rivera's dearest friends, in the story you are telling?
posted by layceepee at 9:14 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Man, I forgot just how underrepresented cis/white people are in stories that are told to a mass market audience.
posted by qcubed at 9:16 AM on August 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm really not interested in getting into a discussion with you, layceepee, until you internalize what I said above:

"minimizing and/or erasing the presence of the people of colour and the transgender people and the lesbians has been going on since 1969. Literally nobody is saying we should be minimizing the presence of the cis/white people there. We are saying we need to stop erasing everybody else."


...on preview, qcubed said it way better.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:17 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think that the idea that you can make a fictional white cis straight guy the hero and that's going to be very helpful is the cis gay guy idea. I think it's perfectly possible for someone to think sincerely that "Middle America" will learn to love the gays if we can just show that the gays are like them, but what happens then is that:

1. The vast parts of "Middle America" that aren't white, for instance, are ignored - no one ever says "let's have a cis Black gay guy throw the first rock, because he is an appealing hero", and yet quite a lot of Middle America is not white.

2. The parts of "Middle America" who are won over still don't like the many, many gay/queer/trans/gender non-conforming/feminist/women/etc people who are not like them. The majority of GLBTQ/etc people are not in fact young conventionally good-looking white cis gay guys from the Midwest (who can be framed as "innocent", unlike even white cis gay guys from New York or something who might be tainted by being city slickers - I mean, this character wouldn't be written as, like, a white cis gay guy who emigrated from Poland as a pre-teen and still has an accent, or a white cis gay guy who looks really Italian and has a thick NY accent.)

3. We end up with a "movement" that's all about marriage/mortgage/military and throws a lot of people under the bus, because we've put all our eggs in the basket of "gay people are just like 'normal' straight people, and 'normal' straight people are white, middle class, gender-conforming, conservative and unlikely to end up in jail, broke, homeless, etc".

I don't think that you need malice to get to "we need to center white cis gay guys in order to win politically" - you just need obliviousness and a narrow social circle. (Not to say that no one is ever malicious, but plenty of people clearly aren't.)
posted by Frowner at 9:22 AM on August 6, 2015 [29 favorites]


would that I had more favourites to give
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:23 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The "middle America" "fly-over country" mockery is a standard part of MetaFilter that I have been railing against for years. That it's including marginalization of minorities who live there, who have even been major headline news in the past few months (Ferguson, anyone) doesn't surprise me.
posted by hippybear at 9:25 AM on August 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


We end up with a "movement" that's all about marriage/mortgage/military and throws a lot of people under the bus, because we've put all our eggs in the basket of "gay people are just like 'normal' straight people, and 'normal' straight people are white, middle class, gender-conforming, conservative and unlikely to end up in jail, broke, homeless, etc".

Which is exactly what's happened. I mean, that's why most of the country seems to think the fight over LGBTQ rights is more or less over because the marriage question has been decided. And for the predominantly caucasian, middle- to upper-class LGB community, it more or less is.

But for the TQ parts and the LGB who aren't in the economically or ethnically privileged groups, well, we just gave them cake, and they're starving for daily bread. Bread which they could get if there were things like employment protections, anti-discrimination provisions, accessible health care...
posted by qcubed at 9:27 AM on August 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Man, I forgot just how underrepresented cis/white people are in stories that are told to a mass market audience.

I'm not particularly interested in stories about Stonewall that are told to a mass market audience, which is why I didn't watch the film trailer.

It seems to me that this thread is not about that movie, but particularly about a reaction to the movie, based on the film's ciswashing and whitewashing of Stonewall.

I don't find that the claim that the contributions to the Stonewall uprising of transgender people or people of color have been minimized is controversial.

I do think that an attempt to respond to that erasure by making claims about "the real historical truth" that are not historically correct is a good idea. I don't think making specious. nearly-incoherent claims about the differences between drag queens, crossdressers and transvestites in New York gay culture of the 60s is helpful. I don't think claiming that Stonewall was really a riot about trans/non-gender-conforming rights captures the real scope of the rebellion.
posted by layceepee at 9:32 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


you just need obliviousness and a narrow social circle.

It does seem like most white folk don't have many non-white folk in their social circle.
posted by qcubed at 9:33 AM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


"To be fair, klangklangston, ACT-UP was created BECAUSE of the devastation of the AIDS crisis, and while many who were in ACT-UP did die of the disease, it's hard to put them on the same level of fore-runner to modern gay activism as the GLF, which was formed around 1969 or 1970 and had basically disbanded by 1973 or so. ACT-UP still continues its activities even today."

You're right, sorry. For some reason, I think of ACT UP as earlier than it was — maybe I confused them with the GMHC? I do think that part of the success of assimilationist organizations like HRC is due to the waning influence of radicals, who were harder hit by the AIDS crisis.
posted by klangklangston at 9:42 AM on August 6, 2015


I do think that an attempt to respond to that erasure by making claims about "the real historical truth" that are not historically correct is a good idea.

So how would you respond to such erasure? It seems to me a lot of other tactics to highlight that erasure have failed to make much headway.
posted by qcubed at 9:42 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think of ACT UP as earlier than it was — maybe I confused them with the GMHC?

GMHC pre-dates ACT-UP by several years, but ACT-UP was almost a reaction to GMHC.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:45 AM on August 6, 2015


Gay Men's Health Crisis was started in the early 1980s as a response to the appearance of GRID, the early acronym for the syndrome we now call AIDS. Larry Kramer was a founding member. The Normal Heart documents this in fictionalized, vastly telescoped form.

GMHC was the reasonable side of the movement demanding action in response to the disease, while ACT-UP was the outrageous attention-grabbing side. Without the two working in tandem (but not necessarily together or even aligned outside of "we have to do something about this fucking thing and we have to do it NOW!") it's likely that the US would have undergone a much more massive epidemic than it experienced.

Like ACT-UP, GMCH continues its work today.
posted by hippybear at 9:49 AM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Larry Kramer was a founding member of both GMHC and ACT UP; I just thought that both had been founded earlier than they actually were. Whether ACT UP is a going concern seems to be largely based on which chapter you're talking about, but I've worked with GMHC and they're pretty nice to deal with.
posted by klangklangston at 9:52 AM on August 6, 2015


qcubed, I'd say you continue to tell the truth as best you can, rather than a truncated story shaped to serve the ideological interest of the person telling it, whether that's an assimilationist middle-class gay or a radical transgender activist. I found the account below (recorded in 1969 by a member of the Matttachine Society that Williams is so dismissive of in the second linked piece here). I think it's superior not only in terms of accuracy, but is also more compelling that Williams' account.

I think if you updated this contemporary piece with an explanation of the development of the transgender movement and an explanation of why activists who would later identify as trangendered might not have described themselves that way in 1969, you'd have something a lot more useful than you get in the skewed accounts linked in this post.

This is Dick Leitcsch, executive director of the Mattachine Society, writing in 1969 about why a police raid on the Stonewall sparked a violent response, when recent similar attacks on other New York gay bars had not.

Why the Stonewall, and not the Sewer or the Snake Pit? The answer lies, we believe, in the unique nature of the Stonewall. This club was more than a dance bar, more than just a gay gathering place. It catered largely to a group of people who are not welcome in, or cannot afford, other places of homosexual social gathering.

The "drags" and the "queens", two groups which would find a chilly reception or a barred door at most of the other gay bars and clubs, formed the "regulars" at the Stonewall. To a large extent, the club was for them. . . . Apart from the Goldbug and the One Two Three, "drags" and "queens" had no place but the Stonewall. . . .

Another group was even more dependent on the Stonewall: the very young homosexuals and those with no other homes. You've got to be 18 to buy a drink in a bar, and gay life revolved around bars. Where do you go if you are 17 or 16 and gay? The "legitimate" bars won't let you in the place, and gay restaurants and the streets aren't very sociable.

Then too, there are hundreds of young homosexuals in New York who literally have no home. Most of them are between 16 and 25, and came here from other places without jobs, money or contacts. Many of them are running away from unhappy homes (one boy told us, "My father called me 'cocksucker so many times, I thought it was my name."). Another said his parents fought so much over which of them "made" him a homosexual that he left so they could learn to live together.

Some got thrown out of school or the service for being gay and couldn't face going home. Some were even thrown out of their homes with only the clothes on their backs by ignorant, intolerant parents who'd rather see their kid dead than homosexual.
They came to New York with the clothes on their backs. Some of them hustled, or had skills enough to get a job. Others weren't attractive enough to hustle, and didn't manage to fall in with people who could help them. Some of them, giddy at the openness of gay life in New York, got caught up in it and some are on pills and drugs. Some are still wearing the clothes in which they came here a year or more ago.

Jobless and without skills—without decent clothes to wear to a job interview—they live in the streets, panhandling or shoplifting for the price of admission to the Stonewall. That was the one advantage to the place—for $3.00 admission, one could stay inside, out of the winter's cold or the summer heat, all night long. Not only was the Stonewall better climatically, but it also saved the kids from spending the night in a doorway or from getting arrested as vagrants.

Three dollars isn't too hard to get panhandling, and nobody hustled drinks in the Stonewall. Once the admission price was paid, one could drink or not, as he chose. The Stonewall became "home" to these kids. When it was raided, they fought for it. That, and the fact that they had nothing to lose other than the most tolerant and broadminded gay place in town, explains why the Stonewall riots were begun, led and spearheaded by "queens".

posted by layceepee at 10:27 AM on August 6, 2015 [20 favorites]


> right about the time that HRC and other mainstream, assimilationist organizations were taking over from the more radical GLF/Act Up activists who were devastated by the AIDS crisis.

Yeah, that's not what happened.

"For some reason, I think of ACT UP as earlier than it was — maybe I confused them with the GMHC?"

Please don't.

" I do think that part of the success of assimilationist organizations like HRC is due to the waning influence of radicals, who were harder hit by the AIDS crisis."

Do you have a cite for this? That sure doesn't track with my experience.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:30 AM on August 6, 2015


In my mind I just favorited layceepee's last comment 10000 times.
posted by hippybear at 10:40 AM on August 6, 2015


I actually had a few drinks at the Stonewall a few weeks ago. I was in the neighborhood and needed a drink and everywhere else in that area is either overpriced or a restaurant. They were very nice.
posted by jonmc at 10:51 AM on August 6, 2015


You know, layceepee, its funny that that's the story you seem to have latched onto, when you haven't seen the trailer.

The people that are described in that story--the outcasts, the ones without decent clothes?

They're not the ones focused on by the trailer. And there's not much faith that they'll be the ones at the center of the movie.

So it sounds very much like you're complaining that people with really valid problems with the trailer that has a clean-cut midwestern cis white boy as the central character are complaining wrong because... I have no clue.
posted by qcubed at 10:55 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


So it sounds very much like you're complaining that people with really valid problems with the trailer that has a clean-cut midwestern cis white boy as the central character are complaining wrong because... I have no clue.

I think the people complaining about the trailer are saying two things.
1) That trailer gets it completely wrong
2) This is how it really is.

It's possible to be absolutely correct about the former, and be absolutely wrong about the latter .

Do you think the real historical truth is that the riots were started by black drag queens and transgender women? I don't think it is, and while I don't think that is as serious a misrepresentation as saying that the riots were started by cis-gendered white men, I don't see why we need to settle for less than the best account we can get.

As I pointed out, the truth seems to me to be more compelling than either of the competing misrepresentations. The fact that cis-gendered white men, drag queens both cis-gendered and trans-gendered, gays of color and white gays, bull dykes and faggots all found common interest in the face of oppression is a great story. Why shouldn't that be the story we tell?
posted by layceepee at 11:26 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think we're just talking past each other.

You want truth. I get that.

Most everyone else is not against "truth" or for "misrepresentation" of said truth. I'm upset that yet again, we're seeing a misrepresentation of truth that focuses solely on the privileged, and that may well be the best account we can get in a mass release for a few decades, which will become part of the cultural fabric and mythos, especially if it cleans up at the awards ceremonies.

So when some people are complaining by focusing on the people who are frequently forgotten, invariably ignored, and stonewashed as standard practice, and as a byproduct lessening the focus on the white, cis individuals who are almost always shown as default bothers you because it's not "compelling" or "truthy" enough, instead of castigating the fuckheads that made the enormously problematic movie in the first place?

I don't think we're going to get anywhere. Because you don't think we're interested in the truth.

And nothing could be further from it.
posted by qcubed at 11:36 AM on August 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Most everyone else is not against "truth" or for "misrepresentation" of said truth. I'm upset that yet again, we're seeing a misrepresentation of truth that focuses solely on the privileged, and that may well be the best account we can get in a mass release for a few decades, which will become part of the cultural fabric and mythos, especially if it cleans up at the awards ceremonies.

Given my own lack of interest in the film, I didn't give adequate weight to this aspect of the issue. Your response has been helpful in me identifying one of my own blind spots.
posted by layceepee at 11:48 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess there's a different take these days on The Boys in the Band and Cruising than there was when I was in my salad days, when they were held up as examples of how not to portray gays in film. I'll have to watch them again and re-evaluate ......

It's a dark play/film - and the characters are unhappy and bitter and biting at each other - and also three-dimensional. None felt like stereotypes - one is effeminate, as some queer men are, and it's part of the plot. And, unlike earlier films, it is hammered home that their unhappiness is not because they are gay, but because of the way the world has treated them for being queer. I don't suppose it was an "ideal presentation" of gay men on film - any more than Trainspotting is a great representation of Scots on film - but it's not a homophobic one.

I first read the play in grade 9 or 10 - sitting on the cold cement floor of my drama teachers classroom. I found it in a book of "Best Plays of 1968". I don't know what possessed me to pick up that volume - but one I started reading that play, I couldn't stop. I didn't want to borrow the book for fear that someone would find out that I was reading "the gay play".

That said, I never really got Harold until I saw the film. Then he leapt off the screen. Such a performance.
posted by jb at 11:55 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I didn't understand what the hell is going on with the main guy in Boys In The Band until I started reading Cheever and OOooh that's what self-loathing WASPs turn into
posted by The Whelk at 12:03 PM on August 6, 2015


Given my own lack of interest in the film

... you're probably in the wrong discussion thread.
posted by hippybear at 12:05 PM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


... you're probably in the wrong discussion thread.

Given that I'm discussing the two linked articles in the original post, as opposed to a film which is not directly linked in the post at all, I don't think that's the case.
posted by layceepee at 12:51 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Articles that are about a film you don't care about. Given your acknowledgement of your blind spots regarding what and how people in this thread are discussing this, I'm kind of astonished that you're continuing to push back on this.
posted by rtha at 1:01 PM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Do you have a cite for this? That sure doesn't track with my experience."

I first heard it as part of a lecture at the ONE Archives, citing people like Robin Hardy as on the radical, liberationist side, and I've seen similar arguments made in Dry Bones Breath, though I don't have a physical copy of that to skim through and track down. In Gay L.A., it was connected to the shift toward reconciliation between the lesbian and gay communities, as lesbians took more leadership positions and de-emphasized the sexual liberation rhetoric of nominally LGBT organizations that had really been primarily about gay men. In Dry Bones Breath, I remember it being connected to a tension between the "professionalization" of AIDS organizations and shifting demographics of the patient populations, to the extent that there was a sense that AIDS organizations were selling out the LGBT movement to work with a bureaucracy that was hostile to radical LGBT identity politics. I was able to find a lot more sources for that specific contention (which is different than the one I made upthread, which I haven't been able to find as much support for), including quotes from Cleve Jones and Eric Rofes, along with reporting from Andrew Sullivan.

BUT I do want to hasten to add that this is all second-hand for me. In 1990, when a lot of this stuff was being written about, I was 11, and I know you were actively working in the movement, so your experience is likely a better guide than history books, even history books written by LGBT people.
posted by klangklangston at 1:19 PM on August 6, 2015


Assimilationist components of ANY movement tend to be better funded and to gain mainstream power because they play according to dominant culture rules. I don't think we need to trash our radical leaders for having the lack of foresight to die too early as the primary reason that assimilationist/marriage equality forces became stronger in LGBT politics. Capitalism and dominant culture will make that happen.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:34 PM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Articles that are about a film you don't care about.

I'm pushing back because, while I don't care about the film, I do care about the history of Stonewall. So when I see a piece that claims the riots were started by black drag queens and transgender women when the accounts of Stonewall that I'm familiar with identify the first person to physically resist the police violence as a lesbian, I'm pushing back.

When someone uses resistance to a stupid movie to slander Harry Hay, I'm pushing back.

Yes, I've gained a better understanding of why responding to the problem the movie's production highlights is important, even if the movie itself isn't. But I remain convinced the way the response is fashioned is important too. And if you are criticizing a movie because it claims to be a true story when it is not, then advancing a narrative which also distorts the event deserves some pushback.
posted by layceepee at 2:33 PM on August 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's not possible that the accounts you're familiar with are part of exactly the same revisionism that we're railing against here?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:44 PM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's not possible that the accounts you're familiar with are part of exactly the same revisionism that we're railing against here?

Given that there are multiple accounts dating from 1969 of a lesbian offering resistance to her arrest and sparking a violent reaction in the crowd that gathered around the Stonewall, I'd say they are, by definition, not revisionism.
posted by layceepee at 3:41 PM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


When people state that we need to give more credence and acknowledgement to the trans PoC women who led the stonewall movement, and prioritize their contributions by centering them instead of white cis people in our modern day narratives, that's not a zero-sum thing that implies that white and cis people were not at all present. This is seriously reading like #AllLivesMatter reactions to #BlackLivesMatter - this is the exact same privileged reaction - so I would really recommend you seek out critiques of that if you don't see what's so incredibly problematic about what you're doing right now.
posted by Conspire at 7:41 PM on August 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


Just watched the excellent American Experience documentary Stonewall Uprising to get a bit of actual researched context for this.

"A rather tough lesbian was busted in the bar, and when she came out of the bar she was fighting the cops, trying to get away." That's a statement made by Lucian Truscott IV, a reporter from the Village Voice who heard something was going down on Christopher Street and who joined the crowd who was approaching and gathering as news of the raid spread through the neighborhood. He's a straight man whose office was in the neighborhood and was part of a contingent of VV reporters who began to cover the uprising from basically the time it began.

The photos that AE used to illustrate this are of a white woman, but there is no mention of her race anywhere, and they are obviously part of the "some photos and footage are recreations" footage, because the period footage and photographs are of a distinctly different quality from what was created to flesh out the documentary. Given the source of this and the distance from which it was being reported, I'm not even sure that "tough lesbian" is easily distinguished from "drag queen".

There's actually no mention of race of participants anywhere in this documentary, and while PoCs are included in the interviews, most of the interviews are (welcome to the white patriarchy) white men whether at the time drag queens or not.

Miss Norleens (sp? unsure of what I'm hearing in that name) is mentioned many times.

I have contacts in NYC who were actually at Stonewall (because there is a local drag queen who has been telling this deeply moving tale about how the ring she wears is from a drag queen who was killed during the Stonewall Riots, and I was checking up on her story [and learned that nobody who was actually at Stonewall will verify and no official records show anyone being killed at Stonewall] but that's another story)...

I will reach out to them and see if they have anything more to share.
posted by hippybear at 1:44 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's not possible that the accounts you're familiar with are part of exactly the same revisionism that we're railing against here?

"A rather tough lesbian was busted in the bar, and when she came out of the bar she was fighting the cops, trying to get away." ... Given the source of this and the distance from which it was being reported, I'm not even sure that "tough lesbian" is easily distinguished from "drag queen".

That person is a butch dyke in masculine dress in numerous 1969 accounts. Possibly, though not definitely, Stormé DeLarverie, who was biracial. I know you guys aren't trying to write the dykes out of queer history, but please be careful.

"​Truscott: The next person to come out was a dyke, and she put up a struggle—from car to door to car again. It was at that moment that the scene became explosive. Limp wrists were forgotten.

Smith: The turning point came when the police had difficulty keeping a dyke in a patrol car. Three times she slid out and tried to walk away. The last time a cop bodily heaved her in. The crowd shrieked, “Police brutality!” “Pigs!” A few coins sailed through the air. I covered my face.

​Eskow: the cops were the targets of thrown coins, cobblestones,

​Letter: Everything went along fairly peacefully until they tried to arrest a dyke (stone butch), who lost her mind in the streets of the West Village—kicking, cursing, screaming, and fighting—she set the whole crowd wild—beserk!

Laurence: Ironically, it was a chick who gave the rallying cry to fight. Pigs were loading her into the wagon when she shouted to a big crowd of bystanders: “Why don’t you guys do something!” That did it. The crowd rushed the police wagon as someone yelled: “Let’s turn it over.” "

Source
posted by thetortoise at 3:32 AM on August 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Well, one thing that is certain... whether it was a biracial butch dyke or a black trans woman or whatever... it certainly was NOT a white cis gay male whose actions started fomenting the crowd that night. I've never read or heard or seen any account in which that is the case.
posted by hippybear at 3:31 PM on August 7, 2015 [4 favorites]




Watching another trailer for this, it looks like they did include the "lesbian being hauled off to a police car asking why people didn't fight back" bit. Are there any critics who have screened the whole movie yet?
posted by corb at 6:19 AM on August 10, 2015


"I don't think we need to trash our radical leaders for having the lack of foresight to die too early as the primary reason that assimilationist/marriage equality forces became stronger in LGBT politics. Capitalism and dominant culture will make that happen."

I'm sorry if I'm coming across as trashing people, since that's really not my intent. I don't think there's any moral failing for dying in a plague. I think you're right about capitalism, I just wish it didn't always seem to win. (Which brings us back to the movie.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:28 AM on August 10, 2015


Watching another trailer for this, it looks like they did include the "lesbian being hauled off to a police car asking why people didn't fight back" bit

Which is pretty orthogonal to "a cis white man didn't throw the first object, a trans woman of colour (Marsha P Johnson) did" so it's not like this lets them off the hook.

They made up a white cis gay man to take the place of a trans woman of colour. Period. That is the problem here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:02 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


They made up a white cis gay man to take the place of a trans woman of colour. Period. That is the problem here.

I don't understand why there can only be one problem of representation in this film. If the marketing, trailers, and cast list are fair indications, the filmmakers are largely uninterested in women's (trans and cis) and gender-nonconforming folks' role in Stonewall, especially women of color. The fact they cast cis male actors to play trans women and that dykes are not visible except in one of the best-documented moments of the uprising (again, going by all the marketing; I haven't seen the film) seem like parts of the same problem to me, which is foregrounding white cis male experience before everything else, even when we're talking about an event that was defined by marginalized people showing resistance.
posted by thetortoise at 1:36 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Since I've never been to the site, is there a statue of Johnson and Rivera? If not, I wonder how hard it would be to get one.
posted by klangklangston at 2:57 PM on August 10, 2015


Oh. Wow. Stormé DeLarverie.
posted by glasseyes at 4:49 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


She died only last year. Way to erase living history, filmmakers.

I appreciate lots of people posting here already know about this history and the people involved but as someone who didn't: Way to erase living history, filmmakers.
posted by glasseyes at 4:55 AM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]




The presence of drag queens should be noted in light of a recent attempt to ban them from a pride parade.

I'm glad this didn't turn into a derail. Now that this thread is slowing down, I want to point out that it was actually just a ban on organized drag performances within a subsection of the event, specifically requested by trans people involved in organizing it, largely because they felt that Pride in general was over-saturated with drag performers. They were very clear from the very beginning that attendees would be free to express their gender in any way they wanted. Worse, it's only became news when a bunch of cisgendered men started harassing the organizers and, in some case, threatening them with violence. I watched a lot of this go down, and while Free Pride isn't particularly good at communicating publicly, they're not the villains that the press has made them out to be. Free Pride was founded to de-commercialize and re-radicalize Pride, and they've got a lot of backlash from mainstreamers for it.

Sometimes erasure comes from above; sometimes it comes from the midst.
posted by WCWedin at 9:41 AM on August 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


“Tearing Down the Walls,” Keegan O'Brien, Jacobin, 20 August 2015
posted by ob1quixote at 12:56 PM on August 20, 2015


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