Movies, Pop Culture

Hollywood is whitewashing Stonewall, and our LGBT history

Don't ever forget, Stonewall was a historical riot started and led by black trans women.

Following the joke of a movie that was “Aloha,” the “Stonewall” trailer brings to our attention another blatant white washing. But this time, it’s even more offensive. Why?

It’s so simple it blows my mind. As expected of a movie based on a real life event, people who went through Stonewall are literally still alive today.

Stonewall was a historical riot started and led by black trans women. Click To Tweet

And they’re not white. They’re not cis. Most importantly, they did not live through the Stonewall they’re trying to sell us.

That’s right: Hollywood is trying to sell us a so-called LGBT “power film” that sanitizes the movement and actually rewrites history. Common knowledge – or, indeed, a simple Google search – quickly yields the truth: Stonewall was a historical riot started and led by black trans women.

A woman tired of what white supremacist culture has done to our history. Click To Tweet

Let it sink in that, among all the people involved with the production of this movie, nobody stopped to think that giving a Stonewall movie a white, cis protagonist was extremely offensive. In fact, it could be said that Stonewall already had it’s own set of “protagonists” in the form of women like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. With Marsha P. Johnson being arguably one of the most well-known and important figures in LGBTQ+ history, it’s such a disgrace that she is played by a cis man in this film whereas this subject was the perfect opportunity to provide acting jobs for trans women of color and finally put them center stage.

A woman who participated in the riot and is still alive today has a thing or two to say about this whole situation.

Meet Miss Majors. A woman tired of what corporate media and white supremacist culture has done to our history. It’s right on her “about” page: “Miss Major is a living library, a resource for generations to come to more fully understand the rich heritage of the Queer Rights movement that is so often whitewashed and rendered invisible. ”

In this interview she speaks out against the Stonewall movie, a very important thing for her to do considering her active participation in the real-life event. And let me tell you, she knows the monster she is dealing with. She opens with, “My first thought is: how dare they attempt to do this again?”

The phrase strikes deep. It strikes wearily and angrily, and it gets straight to the point.

Hollywood thought they could get away with erasing our lives. Click To Tweet

Miss Majors continues on to voice, so accurately, how ridiculous this attempt at rewriting history is, “It’s absolutely absurd — you know, young people today aren’t stupid. They can read the history, they know that this is not the way it happened. These people can’t let it go! Everybody can’t be white!” She makes it clear that this is ongoing problem, from the White commemorative statues across the street from Stonewall to the fact that the gay community was not the one marching and getting terrorized–it was, undoubtedly, trans women. To interchange the two is horrendous.

Then, she continues to hit the nail right on the head. “And now they’re acting like, ‘we’re so grateful that you did this and we’re going to take it from here because you stupid bitches don’t know how to do this,'” she mocks. “Yeah, okay. Because I’m not white, I didn’t go to Harvard or Yale, and my parents don’t have money. What does any of that have to do with the facts? Nothing.”

I urge you to boycott the movie. Click To Tweet

Miss Majors is hitting it out of the ballpark here. Now, I have a lot of feelings – all of them malicious – about what’s occurred but this woman needs no time to articulate how much bullshit this all is. And it goes a long way to show that we can’t continue to let the media do this to the LGBTQ+ community, and especially not the trans community.

“For all the girls who are no longer here who can’t say anything, this movie just acts like they didn’t exist,” she says. Because it’s just too true. Hollywood thought they could get away with erasing so many important, famous lives just for their own convenience and wallets. We cannot, under any circumstances, let that happen. We have to make it clear that adaptions like these need to include the lives of major players, and they need to be respectful. The production ought to work with friends or family to make sure they’re respectful to major figureheads, because you couldn’t make a ham-handed film about (for example) Robin Williams. The fact that, to be true to reality, the film would need to include black trans women portraying sex work is inextricably linked with their move towards rejecting both POC and trans women. It’s bigotry, cut and dry.

In a more heartbreaking tone, Miss Majors also told Huffington Post, “They’re burying us in the ground so when they step off of us, there’s no proof that we were even there.”

But they didn’t know that we were flowers.

I urge you to boycott the movie. And if you were planning to see it, donate that money towards helping support real-life trans women instead.