Backlash Against “Stonewall” Prompts Donations To “Happy Birthday, Marsha!”
"I’m not letting that fictionalized white-washed trans-free Stonewall narrative gain a foothold because it’s a crime against history"
by Eric Shorey
he new trailer for Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall has inspired some righteous ire from LGBT activists, who claim its portrayal of a white cisgender gay man (played by Jeremy Irvine) as the spark that started the riots is historically inaccurate.
Worse, they say, integral figures like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson have been relegated to minor roles. Rivera spent decades working for New York’s LGBT community, and Johnson reportedly threw the first brick during the Stonewall raid—igniting the riots that catalyzed the community into action.
Here’s an impassioned takedown of Stonewall by Monica Roberts of TransGriot:
Seriously? The mother of the trans rights movement, who jumped off Stonewall along with Marsha [and] played a major role in fighting for the recognition of gender variant people as the nascent movement was forming in the wake of the Stonewall rebellion is a minor character?
…Umm, naw boo boo kitty, that’s not how it went down, and as long as Miss Major is alive, I’m not letting that fictionalized whitewashed trans-free Stonewall narrative even gain a foothold because it’s a crime against history …
When Stonewall, the whitewashed trans-history-erasing movie comes out, save your hard earned T-bills. Just say no to erasure and whitewashing of the undeniable trans and person of color influence in what went down on a sultry June 1969 night that changed the course of American history and started a human rights movement.
Twitter campaigns have also sprung up, using the hashtag #NotMyStonewall, and some have called for an outright boycott of the movie.
Others are taking a more positive approach and supporting Happy Birthday, Marsha!, a new film largely written, produced, and acted by queer and trans women of color. Their goal is to tell a more accurate version of what actually happened at the Stonewall Inn.
Mya Taylor, who is garnering critical acclaim in the indie hit Tangerine, stars as Johnson in the movie.
Related: 11 Trans Actors You Need To Know About
Filmmakers Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel are seeking donations to help bring Happy Birthday, Marsha! to theaters. You can make a tax-deductible donation over here.
Here’s a statement from Gossett and Wortzel:
We truly believe how we tell the stories of our heroes matters, so we are drawing upon our community to make this film because we have an opportunity to make a movie written, directed and produced by people living Sylvia & Marsha’s legacy through our own work.
It’s been 45 years since the Stonewall rebellion yet the leading role that street queens, trans women of color and gender non-conforming people had during the riots hasn’t received the recognition it deserves. By making Happy Birthday, Marsha!, we are seeking to change that.
Watch the trailer for Happy Birthday, Marsha!, below.