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Boycott Over Whitewashing of Upcoming ‘Stonewall’

Boycott Over Whitewashing of Upcoming ‘Stonewall’

The
Stonewall Riots, which took place in June 1969, in New York, is considered the impetus
for the modern-day gay liberation movement. Even though the exact details on what started it are still somewhat sketchy, basically what is commonly reported to have happened is that, the NYC police,
who would regularly raid and harass the patrons at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, showed up on that summer night in June, to harass and arrest as usual. But this time
however, the people finally got fed up; and what followed were protests, demonstrations and violence, before
things finally quieted down, several days later. But what resulted was the creation
of gay activist organizations around the country, and the first aggressive push
for the recognition of gay rights, which continues to this day.

Coming
out in late Sept, after its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, is a film about Stonewall, called appropriately enough, “Stonewall,” directed by Roland Emmerich. Yes, I’m taking that Roland Emmerich, the same guy who directed those end of the world
blockbusters, such as “Independence Day,” the 1995 remake of “Godzilla,” as well as “2012,” “White
House Down,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “10,000 BC.”

By the way, “Stonewall” is actually not the first film to deal with the riots. There was another earlier low-budget film released 20 years ago, also titled “Stonewall,” which also chronicled the
event.

But even
before its release, Emmerich’s upcoming film is already facing a storm of controversy, with an online boycott movement and Twitter protest, against the film. So what’s at the root of it all? In short, the whitewashing
of the actual event.

In the film, based on the trailer below, we are given the impression that some young,
corn fed, bullied and misunderstood gay kid from America’s heartland, and another white guy who he meets at the bar at the center of the Stonewall riots, more or less started the movement.

In fact, all historians
of the event say that it was actually a black drag queen, named Marsha P. Johnson, and
a Puerto Rican transgender woman, named Silvia Rivera, who actually started the riots,
neither of whom look to be in the film.

A
gay black woman named Stormé DeLarverie, who was one of the people arrested that
night by the police, and who reportedly fought with them, threw the first punch. Unfortunately,
her role in the film is played by a white woman, as protesters of the movie are saying that barely any people of color are represented in it, when in fact they were very active and involved during the actual rebellion.

Stormé, who
passed away last year at the age of 94, went on to become one of the
most outspoken activists for gay rights and LGBT people of color.

As with most
boycotts against a particular movie, this one against Emmerich’s film is doomed
to fail as well. As I have asked before, name a boycott that actually worked.

That said, once again, it should not be so surprising that Hollywood is whitewashing
history in their own deluded belief that it will make the film more “commercial.” Or maybe it’s just outright racism; or both.

Either way, what else
is new?

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