TV Shows History Pop Culture

I love history, but I can’t stand historical TV shows

I’m a big history nerd. I’m not only a history major, but someone who collects and wears historical clothes, who owns figurines of historical figures, who collects books on my favorite parts of history, and who played history games throughout my entire childhood. Studying history has always been a huge part of my identity, and one I’m still happy to include in my life today. But it’s probably time to admit it: I hate historical TV shows. As a history geek, I should love them, but it’s hard for me to stomach a single one.

These shows forget that people in the past did, in fact, have fun.

I have one main reason, and it’s that these shows are straight-up boring. The lighting is too dark, the costumes too beige and ugly, and every word of dialogue is spoken in a raspy whisper. Everything is so bleak it’s almost impossible to follow. Try watching The Medici or The Tudors. I have difficulty figuring out anything that’s going on. And don’t get me started on the lighting in The Crown. 

A disheveled white man with a beard and a loose top.
[Image Description: A dark-haired white man in a dark shirt] via BBC. This is how Da Vinci’s Demons dresses its protagonists — in dull, disheveled, and downright ugly clothing.
And trust me, I won’t hear the excuse that real life was just as bleak back then. As a keen student of historical costuming, I know that a lot of historical clothing was bright, extravagant, and sometimes just ridiculous. I admit it’s not the biggest issue, but it still rubs me the wrong way. I feel like these shows forget that people in the past did, in fact, have fun occasionally. You rarely see any entertainment or festivities in these shows, unless they’re doomed to go horribly wrong. You almost never see any characters genuinely laugh in these shows. Sure, living in the past was terrible in a lot of ways, but people still retained a sense of humor.

I’ll give you an example. I once made the horrible mistake of attempting to watch Da Vinci’s Demons, which loosely follows the life of Leonardo da Vinci, and encapsulates everything I hate about historical television. The show portrays Leonardo as a tortured, edgy womanizer, despite the fact that he was almost certainly gay and, by all accounts, a very pleasant person. Throughout the show, he almost exclusively wears dark, tattered shirts and dusty trousers, whereas the historical Leonardo wore brightly-colored tunics and tights. It might sound ridiculous to the modern viewer, but personally, I think we should acknowledge the absurdity of history. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s easier to relate to people who don’t take themselves too seriously.

A brightly colored Renaissance painting of a wealthy, finely dressed family.
[Image Description: a Renassaince painting showing a group of people dressed in beautiful costumes.]This is how people in the Renaissance actually dressed! Short tunics, leggings, bright colors…it may not be as sexy, but it’s way more fun!
There’s also a lot of unnecessary drama in historical TV shows. I’ll admit, this trend strikes me as odd because there’s already so much drama in real history. Shows like The Tudors, The Borgias, The Last Kingdom, and The Medici like to make a big deal out of political battles and sex scandals, and rarely imbue these plot lines with any humor or humanity. Drama is important for entertainment’s sake, but we can still try and make the drama seem somewhat human. Most relationships aren’t built on stolen glances and steamy affairs. Why not portray these love stories with affection, awkwardness, and a tiny bit of down-to-earth humanity?

History isn’t all epic battles and heaving bosoms, a lot of it is everyday life.

Even the grand, epic battles are a little too dramatic for my sake. They ignore the disease, the squalor, and the sheer tedium of real-life battles. It might not be fun to acknowledge the unglamorous parts of history, but it makes for better television. If we’re going to relate to these historical figures, we need to at least see them as human.


Most historical TV shows seem totally unwilling to have any fun with history. They refuse to acknowledge that along with the drama and sadness of history, there’s also comedy and absurdity and awkwardness. Historical people were real human beings. Sometimes they wore ridiculous outfits, joked around with each other, and made awkward mistakes. History isn’t all epic battles and heaving bosoms, a lot of it is everyday life. I certainly don’t think these shows are evil, but they do make history feel so much more distant and detached than it really is.

We should remember that history has plenty of dimensions, some good and some bad, some funny and some serious, some totally normal and some downright weird. It doesn’t help to glamorize or romanticize history, but it doesn’t help to dull it down either. Historical figures were people too, and our television should at least recognize them as such. Besides, it’s more fun that way anyway.

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History Lost in History Historical Badasses

Meet Armen Ohanian, the belly dancer who defied every stereotype of a Middle Eastern woman

It would be easy to dismiss Armen Ohanian as just a famous belly-dancer, but she was more than just that.

Ohanian was one of the first women to bring Middle-Eastern dancing to the Western world, but most people haven’t heard about her before. Those who have heard of her only think of her as an “exotic dancer” rather than a gifted, talented, and complex human being. So who was this woman?

Armen Ohanian was born in 1887, originally named Sophia Pirboudaghian. She grew up in modern-day Azerbaijan in a wealthy Armenian family, where she received a vast academic and artistic education. Despite her privileged upbringing, she underwent an incredible amount of tragedy at a young age. She survived a devastating earthquake in her early years, which forced her family to relocate. She later witnessed brutal anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku, which tragically claimed the life of her father. After a brief marriage, Ohanian lived, worked, and studied in Russia, Turkey, and Iran, learning the art of Armenian and Iranian dances.

She didn’t need to be Western to be modern

Eventually, Armen Ohanian accepted an offer to perform in London, and eventually became a sensation throughout Europe. Western audiences were quick to fetishize and commodify her style of dancing, which they only viewed as hypersexual belly-dancing. They reduced her to a sexual object without considering the traditions and talent behind her dancing. In reality, Ohanian was an incredibly gifted dancer and choreographer.

She revolutionized dance by merging modern free-dancing with traditional Armenian and Iranian dances. Ohanian embraced tradition and innovation alike, proving that she didn’t need to be Western to be modern. Some might say that she embraced Western fetishism to further her career. I say we cannot hold her responsible for the Western reaction to her art. Ohanian danced with dignity and pride in her culture. It’s her audience’s fault, not her own, that they couldn’t recognize her humanity.

Armen Ohanian’s talent extended far beyond her dancing. She was also a gifted writer and poet, as well as a political activist.

In her later years, she immigrated to Mexico where she was an active member of the Mexican Communist Party and translated political literature. She also wrote a number of memoirs and poems, which focused on her identity as a diasporic Armenian in exile. Ohanian was not only subversive politically, but in her everyday life. She was likely bisexual and had numerous affairs with both men and women. She divorced and remarried in a time when that was incredibly uncommon. Ohanian lived her life how she wanted to live it, and that’s beyond admirable. 

As a woman of Iranian-Armenian heritage, Armen Ohanian is a reminder that Middle Eastern and Armenian women have the power to be both subversive and proud of their heritage. I know firsthand that Armenian society can be very traditional. Seeing an independent, liberated, queer woman like Armen Ohanian gives me hope for other Armenian women. She is proof of the resilience of Armenian and Middle-Eastern women. This is someone who survived natural disasters, ethnic cleansing, xenophobia, and prejudice, but emerged stronger than before. She was a multi-faceted and complicated woman who couldn’t be confined to one category.

It’s impossible to define Armen Ohanian as simply a sexually liberated dancer, or a fiery political revolutionary, or a homesick poet living in exile, or an intellectual writer and translator. She was all of these things and more. I find a lot of inspiration in this incredible woman, who refused to limit herself to one art form, one talent, one career, or even one national identity. She was able to create a name for herself in a world that was hostile to the aspirations of Middle-Eastern women, and she did so with dignity and courage.

Armen Ohanian passed away in 1976, but her bold and resilient spirit still lives on in all of us. We could all take a page from her book and live our lives as she did, fearlessly and proudly, always in search of a better future.

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LGBTQIA+ History Coronavirus The World

50 years later, the legacy of Pride lives on

The New York City Pride parade has been cancelled for the first time since its origin 50 years ago. In-person events that were scheduled to take place June 14-28, 2020 are in the process of being reimagined virtually as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pride is a staple in New York City, as it has been since the Stonewall Riots prompted a revolution in June of 1969. The fight for gay-rights as we know it was born and catalyzed here. America in the 1960’s, and in the decades that came before it, was not at all welcoming for those in LGBTQIA+ community. In New York, any inclination of sexual activity between people of the same sex in public was considered illegal. That is, hand holding, kissing, or even dancing. This antiquated and ridiculous law was not overturned until 1980 when the People v. Ronald Onofre case was decided. 

These times were also riddled with discrimination and a series of raids among other forms of abuse on prominent gay bars and clubs in Greenwich village. Such spaces were some of the only places where members of the community could seek refuge and were finally able to express themselves openly without worry. Nonetheless, police brutality on the basis of sexual orientation and just plain bigotry was awfully common during these raids.  

On the night of June 28, 1969 obvious tensions arose between the two groups, and the patrons bravely decided to fight back against the police at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar that was one of the few of its kind that opened its doors to drag queens. Notably, the first bottle of the uprising, which lasted six whole days, was thrown by a Black transgender woman, Marsha P. Johnson. The protesters were met time and time again with tear-gas and physical altercations with the police, but they persisted. Those in the street are said to have been singing slogans similar to the ones that we hear today like “gay power” and “we shall overcome.” 

It would be an injustice to ignore the contributions of the Black community to this iconic moment that started a resistance.

This moment sparked the beginning of a modern resistance that is beautifully laced with love and versatility. 

It would be an injustice, however, to ignore the coincidences of this past that align with the current civil rights demonstrations happening across the world, declaring defiantly that Black lives matter. Both movements continue to feature a spotlight on recognizing basic human rights while also condemning police practices that terrorize the communities they are meant “to serve and protect.” So much of American history is patterned with this same struggle, consistency, and perseverance. Not to mention that it was, in fact, Black women who spearheaded this revolution 51 years ago, and 51 years later Black women are again at the forefront of a movement seeking to eradicate systemic inequality. We must not let this go unnoticed.

The year after what has come to be known as the Stonewall riots, June of 1970, marked the first ever Pride parade in New York City. Though it took a long time to come, the LGBTQIA+ community has certainly overcome much of the hate and marginalization that has been thrown its way. But, they’re still fighting. To this day, new non-discrimination protections are being fought for and passed all because of their constant effort and strength. 

Since then, New York City and its Pride parade has been a proven safe-haven for vulnerable and battered communities alike. It is a time for people to come together and celebrate themselves as phoenixes who have risen way above the ashes while also acknowledging the slashed history that they are eternally attached to. 

Just last year, New York City hosted world WorldPride and some 2 million people were in attendance. This in and of itself is a testament to the impact that the revolution has had, and continues to have, all over the world. Such ever-clear and unrelenting perseverance is nothing less of an inspiration. 

Today, as the coronavirus runs its raging course throughout the United States, New York City has been noticeably hit the hardest. With nearly 212,000 confirmed cases and over 20,000 deaths thus far in the City alone, New Yorkers are being urged to remain full of the hope and drive that makes us so thick-skinned in the first place. But, this is not an easy feat, especially given the turmoil that seems to be slowly encapsulating every bit of our daily lives. Once again, we have set out in a movement that looks to challenge history and change it for good. For the LGBTQIA+ community, that anxiety is heightened tremendously. 

The absence of the iconic Pride parade will certainly have a dramatic financial impact on the people and businesses that have come to rely on it. Not to mention the mental toll that will surely come along without a break from mobilizing, resource, or strategy efforts concerning the ongoing, and seemingly never-ending, fight for equal rights. It is certainly an all-hands-on-deck sort of thing. This fight is fought every single day, with the smallest actions sometimes making the most noise, and none of it should go unnoticed. 

The contributions that the LGBTQIA+ community has made to both the City and to the greater struggle for equality are undeniable. So, the decision to cancel Pride this year was not easy. But, it was definitely necessary. However, just because the pandemic prevents us from physically coming together this year, it does not mean that the spirit of Pride in New York City won’t be felt just the same.

An online Global Pride will be broadcasted for 24-hours straight on June 27, starting in the east and moving west. Each local or participating pride chapter is hoped to have an allotment of 15-minutes of airtime each, depending on individual time zones, for performances and speeches by grand marshals. This is a community that has always come together in the face of adversity and this year is no different. My wish is for this to be yet another example of the LGBTQIA+ communities resilience that should be honored and remembered, especially in a context of human rights.

Movies Pop Culture

Wait a second, are all Disney villains gay?

Have you noticed that most Disney villains have queer characteristics?

For example, male villains like Hades, Captain Hook, or Jafar tend to have effeminate mannerisms or appearances. They get easily scared, are very expressive when they speak, have high pitched voices, and are preoccupied with their looks, usually wearing make-up and looser clothes, similar to dresses. Basically, they do not conform to typical heteronormative codes of conduct, and they are made fun of and criticized because of it.

This is called queer-coding. And it’s a problem.

The problem with queer-coding comes from the historical tendency of queer-coding villains.

Queer-coding is defined as the process by which characters are depicted as having physical or behavioral traits that are usually associated with the LGBTQIA+ community, even though the sexual orientation of the character is not specified. These characteristics usually include more effeminate traits for male characters and more masculine characteristics for female ones.

Queer-coding originated in the America of the 1950s and 60s, where the representation of LGBTQIA+ characters was heavily discouraged in cinema. It is usually associated with the Hays Code, enforced from the 1940s, a set of moral guidelines that regulated the censorship of American movies. Among other things, the code banned ‘any inference of sex perversion’. Sex perversion being anything that is not heterosexuality.

The problem with queer-coding comes from the historical tendency of queer-coding villains.

Depictions of LGBTQ+ characters were only acceptable as long as it was not specifically mentioned, and the characters in question if they were defeated at the end and ‘their sins’ were punished. The sexual orientation of the character was then expressed through mannerisms, fashion, and speech. Moreover, queer characters were associated at the time with immorality, and, by extent, with the evil that the heroes have to defeat.

Disney subtly teaches children that non conforming to heteronormative constructs is bad.

The queer-coding of villains served to create a psychological association in people’s minds (particularly children’s) between ‘queer’ and ‘evil’.

In Disney’s Renaissance era, when the company set out to create villains with more personality than the ones from the previous movies, they used queer-coding constantly. Moreover, they didn’t hide it.

Úrsula from The Little Mermaid is based on a real drag queen, who was also a referent of the LGTBQIA+ community of the time: Divine. Úrsula’s eyebrows and make-up resemble those usually associated with drag queens. Her behavior is very sexualized and she even has a much lower-pitched and husky voice.

[Image Description: image of Ursula from The Little Mermaid next to a black and white photo of the drag queen Divine.] via Twitter.
[Image Description: image of Ursula from The Little Mermaid next to a black and white photo of the drag queen Divine.] via Twitter.
However, queer-coding is more obvious in male characters, creating the common trope of the ‘sissy villain’. Characters like Hades, Jafar, Scar, Captain Hook, and King John all fall under this trope.

Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas is a great example. He is very vain, wears bows on his hair, is obsessed with gold and glitter, and hates physical labor. He even wears pink!

Male villains like Hades, Captain Hook, or Jafar tend to have effeminate mannerisms or appearances.

The queer-coding is even more obvious when comparing the heroes and villains. If you look at the contrast between Úrsula and Ariel, Governor Ratcliffe and John Smith, Hades and Hercules, or Aladin and Jafar, you can see how the heroes are hyper-masculine and the heroines sweet and wholesome. The male villains, on the other hand, are effeminate and weak, and the female ones devious and corrupting.

The issue is not whether these characters are gay or not. The problem is that these films make fun of the characters that don’t conform with the standard gender norms.

[Image Description: Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas singing while dressed fully in gold and holding his hands up in the air.] via Tumblr.
[Image Description: Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas singing while dressed fully in gold and holding his hands up in the air.] via Tumblr.
Children’s movies, and particularly those that are so popular as Disney’s, are meant to teach children. They emphasize what is good and bad, and what behaviors are moral and immoral. The fact that Disney movies CONSTANTLY portray villains with a series of stereotypes associated with the LGBTQIA+ community promotes hate and opposition towards everything that doesn’t conform to gender norms.

And yes, queer people can be bad, the same way that straight people can. However, the non-existence of heroic characters that are queer-coded makes the queer-coding in itself highly problematic. While straight people can be good and bad, queer-coded characters are ALWAYS the bad ones.

The problem is that these films make fun of the characters that don’t conform with the standard gender norms.

The fact is that Disney villains are amazing characters, and some of the most loved by Disney fans. Moreover, the LGBTQIA+ community accepted these characters, and was even thankful for them, because it gave visibility to the community, even if it was in the form of a villain. Howard Ashman, the lyricist of The Little Mermaid, who was also heavily involved in its casting and production, was openly gay.

It isn’t that much of a problem that characters are queer-coded, although, in this day and age, it is about time that some of them are made explicitly queer. The issue comes when only the villains are queer-coded, therefore perpetuating the internalized association between queerness and immorality.

Let’s celebrate Disney villains for the representation that they gave to the LGBTQIA+ community back in the day. But let’s stop this trend and create some LGTBQIA+ heroes instead.

LGBTQIA+ Gender Inequality

Queer people are to thank for the Met Gala’s incredible fashion

This year’s Met Gala took a huge turn from 2018’s Catholic theme. In fact, it took a dive into the fashion of a community that the church has historically marginalized – that of drag queens.

Yes, ladies and gentlethem, camp is in fact queer culture. Lena Waithe’s embroidered suit said it all, “Black drag queens invented camp.”

While Lady Gaga took the opportunity to unravel a fashion performance and Harry Styles showed off his nipples, Lena Waithe used her outfit to make an acute sociopolitical statement.

Queer people, and especially queer people of color are at the heart of many cultural trends. And yet, the media tends to forget this when celebrities pick up on queer fashion: it’s cultural appropriation at its finest.

This is especially ironic given that drag and camp began as a form of resistance.

A group of black drag queens, trans women and queer folk in the early 90s posing dramatically
[Image Description: A group of black drag queens, trans women and queer folk in the early 90s posing dramatically.] Via Paris is Burning
The iconic queer film, Paris is Burning, documents drag queen culture as a safe haven for LGBTQ youth during the late 20th century. Many gay and genderqueer people who would otherwise be homeless relied on drag ball culture and competitions for income and housing.

Just one decade before Paris is Burning is set, New York police heavily enforced anti-crossdressing laws. These laws were actively used to persecute the LGBTQ community, as wearing more than three pieces of the opposite gender’s clothing could lead to arrest.

It took revolutionary and often violent acts, such as the Stonewall Riots of 1969, to get to the point where drag queens weren’t criminalized for simply putting on a dress.

Fast forward to 2019, and one of the most lauded fashion events in the western hemisphere proposes camp as a theme. The subtitle of this year’s gala, “Notes on Fashion”, is an allusion to a Susan Sontag essay, “Notes on Camp”, originally titled “Notes on Homosexuality.”

Queerness and camp cannot be untied.

In queer spaces, camp has historically been used to denounce gender roles by taking gender stereotypes and exaggerating them. As Judith Butler would say, gender is a performance.

Camp takes this performance and holds it up to a light. It’s loud and humorous and fun, but it also forces us to ask real questions. Do glitter and lipstick make a woman? Do suits and ties make a man? Why can Harry Styles show his nipples when women still struggle to breastfeed in public?

Camp is a sociopolitical tool, one that is undeniably rooted in queer history. As we applaud celebrities for genderbending, we need to remember that some people don’t have that privilege.

Don’t get me wrong, we are blessed to live in a time where gendered fashion is contested in the mainstream. I’ll always be here for women wearing suits and men wearing gowns, and genderqueer folks (or anyone, really) wearing whatever the hell they want.

But we have to take care to always center queer people, their history and their sacrifices. After all, fashion is political.

USA LGBTQIA+ Gender Policy Inequality

Never forget that the first-ever Pride was a riot against police brutality

Pride Month is a time of celebration for the queer community.

While the joy of Pride might still be struggling to gain a foothold in some places, in most major cities across the United States this month will be marked with parades and parties. Brands are rolling out rainbow-stamped merchandise and sponsoring parade floats. But Pride isn’t just a time of revelry; it’s also a time of remembrance.

We celebrate Pride in the month of June because it marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

In 1969, queer life was decidedly not something that could be celebrated by mainstream culture. Police regularly raided gay nightclubs, arresting people who were wearing clothing that didn’t conform to their assigned gender or were suspected of “soliciting” same-sex relations. Up until 1966, the New York State Liquor Authority would shut down or otherwise punish bars that sold alcohol to members of the LGBTQ+ community, arguing that a group of queer people was somehow inherently more disorderly than a group of straight people.

In 1969, homosexual acts–kissing, holding hands, dancing together–were still illegal in New York. So on the night of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar that is still open in Greenwich Village. 

In 1969, queer life was decidedly not something celebrated by mainstream culture.

Stonewall was one of the few bars that welcomed drag queens, who were often shunned from other LGBT spaces.

The police started arresting bar patrons and employees who were violating the law about gender-appropriate clothing. When an officer clubbed a Black lesbian named Stormé DeLarverie over the head for complaining that her handcuffs were too tight, the crowd that had gathered outside the club had enough.

Marsha P. Johnson, a Black drag queen, and Sylvia Rivera, a Latinx queen, were two of the first to actively resist the police that night, throwing bricks, bottles, and shot glasses at officers. Their actions sparked six days of riots in the neighborhood surrounding the Stonewall Inn and galvanized the nascent gay rights movement in the United States.

Johnson and Rivera later started Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR,) an organization dedicated to serving young, homeless drag queens and trans women of color. Sadly, today queer people of color and especially trans and gender nonconforming people of color continue to be the most vulnerable members of the queer community, despite the fact that we have Johnson and Rivera to thank for so much of our achievements since 1969.

Transgender people of color face the highest rates of violent crime.

Today, 60% of the victims of anti-LGBTQ violence and anti-HIV
crimes are people of color, despite the fact that people of color make up only 38% of the U.S. population. Likewise, while only about 3.5% of the U.S. population is composed of undocumented immigrants, they made up 17% of the victims in this study. It’s hard to get definite numbers on hate crimes, so there is certainly a margin for error in these numbers, but the trends here are clear and disturbing. 

Despite the rising acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in many parts of the country, rates of homicide against our community are also rising. And as you may have guessed by now, those rates are especially high for trans and queer people of color. Transgender people of color face the highest rates of violent crime of all queer people. The majority of victims of anti-LGBTQ violence said that police were “hostile” or “indifferent” when they reported the crimes.

As a result, many choose not to report, so the numbers are likely worse than we know.

While we have achieved marriage equality, other legal battles still remain. So far, only two states–California and Illinois– have banned the use of the “gay panic defense” in court. Essentially, the gay panic defense is used when someone has committed violence against a queer person because that queer person’s alleged sexual advances made the perpetrator so scared they lashed out.

While we have achieved marriage equality, other legal battles still remain.

Some people argue that the defense is uncommon and unlikely to succeed, so banning it is unnecessary, but one study found that it has been used in about half of U.S. states, with a mixed record of success–a man in Texas was acquitted of murder based on his lawyer’s successful use of the gay panic defense. More importantly, though, advocates for the ban argue that it is important not to allow queer identity to ever be sufficient cause for violence.

That seems especially important amid the increasing rates of homicide against queer and trans people.

In 28 states, it is still legal to fire someone based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Since there are no federal anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people, there are limited ways for people in those states to fight back.

Likewise, 28 states have no protections for the queer community against housing discrimination. Three of those states (North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas) have even passed state laws that block local governments from enacting housing protections for LGBTQ+ people. About 50% of queer Americans live in states that lack these kinds of protections.

And despite our gains in recent years, the rollout of “religious exemption” bills in states controlled by Republican lawmakers threaten our access to all kinds of services and rights, from adopting kids to receiving medical care.

I love celebrating Pride. As an introvert, it can feel like I save up all my energy for socializing to expend it this month at parades, demonstrations, drag shows, and dance parties. But now is a time to not only remember, but also revive Pride’s revolutionary roots.

Our rights and our very lives are still under attack, and the most vulnerable members of our community need not only solidarity but action.

LGBTQIA+ Movies Pop Culture

Hollywood is whitewashing Stonewall, and our LGBT history

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.