Friday, August 7, 2015

#ITLQBM - The Erasure of Black Queer Lives in Media - #BoycottStonewallMovie (UPDATE)

Intersectionality Through the Lens of a Queer Black Man

I came across an article on Buzzfeed entitled Director Roland Emmerich Discusses “Stonewall” Controversy and frankly, I am now even more offended at his erasure. Last month he released a statement that clearly did not address what he attempted to justify in his most recent buzzfeed interview, I still will boycott this movie and I encourage People of Color in the LGBT community to do the same.

The author clearly sided with him when she stated that "The trailer depicts the film’s handsome white protagonist, Danny Winters (Jeremy Irvine), arriving in the West Village on a bus from his Indiana hometown, meeting a colorful gang of queer street femmes and tossing the first brick to incite the Stonewall riots, which would inspire the first Gay Liberation March a year later in New York City. Critics online quickly took issue. From the looks of things, said naysayers, Danny — a fictional character inserted into a historical event of monumental significance to the LGBT community — was being painted as Stonewall’s hero, rather than the real-life trans women, butch dykes, and drag queens of color many argue were at the forefront of the turmoil that hot summer night." YES, we took issue with this revisionist depiction of history that actually took place and included the people that you claim that we "argued" existed. Facts cannot be argued, but lies and whitewashing can be argued because we are tired of this erasure in Hollywood.

"You have to understand one thing: I didn’t make this movie only for gay people, I made it also for straight people,” he said. “I kind of found out, in the testing process, that actually, for straight people, [Danny] is a very easy in. Danny’s very straight-acting. He gets mistreated because of that. [Straight audiences] can feel for him." - Emmerich

That is the most ridiculous assertion in this interview! This movie is supposed to tell the story for ALL people, LGBT and straight to understand what that period of time was like and how change came about. Why the masculine White, cis man???? According to the piece "Emmerich said that deciding which of the real-life heroes to include involved long, frequent discussions with the film’s screenwriter, Jon Robin Baitz. But Marsha P. Johnson is the only clearly discernible trans character in the film; Emmerich said that in consultation with historians and veterans, he concluded that there were only a couple of transgender women in the Stonewall ever. They were like a minority.” And I agree with what Miss Major Griffin-Gracie had to say, “I’m sorry, but the last time I checked, the only gay people I saw hanging around were across the street cheering. They were not the ones getting slugged or having stones thrown at them,” she said. “It’s just aggravating. And hurtful! For all the girls who are no longer here who can’t say anything, this movie just acts like they didn’t exist.”

Not sure if there is anything left to say, except please avoid this White, cis male centered movie when it hits theaters.


Previously: "According to Wikipedia, "Very few establishments welcomed openly gay people in the 1950s and 1960s. Those that did were often bars, although bar owners and managers were rarely gay. At the time, the Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia.[5][6] It catered to an assortment of patrons and was known to be popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, representatives of the transgender community, effeminate young men, male prostitutes, and homeless youth..."

The recent trailer depicts a very different vision of the Stonewall events, in the context that the events were led by Cis, White men and I guess we have to wait for the damn movie to verify whether it is inclusive or not."

***For good laughs and to join the conversation follow #BoycottStonewallMovie***

Here is what director Roland Emmerich had to say about the Stonewall movie according to Vulture with my responses (LMAO):

"It was a huge challenge to make this movie, and if I had not absolutely wanted it, it would not have happened..." 

"It was an uphill battle, but we finally did it..."

"We wanted to do it in New York on location, and that failed miserably because it was so expensive..."

"If you can cast a central character with one or two famous actors, you have a good chance to get the movie financed, but in my case, I knew there was not really one central character in the Stonewall riots,"

"I think we represented it very well..."

You mean to tell me/us that you had all of these issues to make this movie that included but was not limited to reluctant studio execs, financing & location is your excuse to commit the level of erasure we are witnessing here? You are a gay white man who directed this movie out of your desire to illustrate a historic moment in our country. You hired a gay white man to be your screenwriter and developed a fictional white gay male character to take the place of people who are well documented in literature as a protagonist. I CALL BULLSHIT, you didn't represent very well! Well actually you did, you did what we expect you cisgender White men to do, ERASE, erase people in order to create a more comfortable REVISIONIST yeah you represented very well.

"We have drag queens, lesbians, we have everything in the film because we wanted to portray a broader image of what 'gay' means."

So your "broader image of what gay means" is to overgeneralize LGBT into one male dominated, cisgender, White image? It was not them who fought that battle, in reality it was Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, lesbians and many others who defied the social norms of gender identity and sexual orientation that sparked the historic riot in 1969. Mr. Emmerich, there is a difference between being Transsexual and being a Drag Queen, you really, as a gay man should catch up to the twenty first century. I would submit that you are portraying a narrower image of what "gay means." What is more insulting is that you used the INCLUSIVE speech of President Barack Obama as you committed the crime of ERASURE against Black & Brown persons, women, Transpersons and many others who played an intricate role in this event. You used a Black man to commit a micro/macroaggression many of us in the LGBTQ community and you need to go back to the drawing board!

As I started this blog post, Emmerich released this statement:

"When I first learned about the Stonewall Riots through my work with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, I was struck that the circumstances that lead to LGBT youth homelessness today are pretty much the same as they were 45 years ago. The courageous actions of everyone who fought against injustice in 1969 inspired me to tell a compelling, fictionalized drama of those days centering on homeless LGBT youth, specifically a young midwestern gay man who is kicked out of his home for his sexuality and comes to New York, befriending the people who are actively involved in the events leading up to the riots and the riots themselves. I understand that following the release of our trailer there have been initial concerns about how this character’s involvement is portrayed, but when this film – which is truly a labor of love for me – finally comes to theaters, audiences will see that it deeply honors the real-life activists who were there — including Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Ray Castro — and all the brave people who sparked the civil rights movement which continues to this day. We are all the same in our struggle for acceptance."

If our struggle was the same for acceptance, we wouldn't really be in a struggle, you are the poster boy for privilege: White, Cisgender, Male. Do not co- opt a struggle that you know nothing about, this is not to say that you don't experience homophobia, but you don't know shit about being Black, Trans or a woman and I would suggest you go and ACTUALLY learn LGBT history so that you don't keep up this theme of revisionist history.

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