Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Who Is Danny?? (Stonewall Movie)

   Just like everything else, I am completely late to this discussion- mainly because I wanted to gain as much research and perspective from others as possible before going in with my own words and opinions. I believe it's always best to have multiple points of views from various ideas before voicing everything I have to say and that's why I sometimes end up being the person to drag things out. But, it is MUCH better to be later than never and to be honest, there's no real way to be "late" to this discussion since it should keep going and going and not be dropped until change is made! As most of you probably know, the trailer for the Stonewall movie, coming out in September, was released in the beginning of the month and for those who aren't aware of the true events, it can be seen as a powerful and progressive piece whereas just the trailer is riddled with problems and fabrication.
   For some background, Stonewall or The Stonewall Inn was known to be the most popular gay bar in the city, non conformists found haven in this area of Greenwich village and though it was extremely progressive for the LGBTQA+ community, the state of New York wasn't as much with sodomy laws targeting mainly gay men. Laws also included homosexuals not being able to congregate and bars not allowing to serve them liquor. This prompted the creation of the Mattachine Society, a group of homophile (pro gay rights) men who held sit ins inside of the local bars. In truth, Stonewall was pretty infamous. The drinks were watered down and it was mainly populated by those too poor to go elsewhere. It was famous for the dancing however because of the laws against display of homosexual relationships and this was one of the only places true representation could be shown. Being technically illegal, Stonewall was fueled by bribes to the police and the mafia. Sometimes, the cops would raid the bar to make their pay higher. Most of these nights would consist of the bar goers having to line up against the wall and provide identification. Even after doing what they're told, the police department still had the right to arrest patrons. In the trailer, it shows a blond haired, blue eyed, fictional, white man going by the name, Danny, throwing the first brick when riots burst on June 28, 1969. However, that couldn't be any less true. The main characters of Stonewall included Sylvia Rivera, a Puerto Rican drag queen and trans-woman, Miss Major, an active advocate for trans rights mainly for those of color, Storme DeLaverie "guardian of the lesbians" and drag king, and Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans-woman and sex worker. On the night of the famous Stonewall riot, Sylvia was celebrating her birthday with Marsha. When police raided the bar, Sylvia wasn't too worried since she was barely wearing any makeup and abiding by the common rule of having at least four items of "gender appropriate" garb. When cops got to her in line, one asked her if she was a boy or girl and Sylvia almost hit him until she was held back by a friend. More of the expressive people attending Stonewall, exited the bar and struck poses outside for those passing by to see but the mood completely shifted when patrons began being arrested one of them being Storme. DeLaverie screamed as she was being put into a paddy wagon, "Why don't you do something?" to people outside. It is said that Marsha was the first to throw a shot glass at Stonewall, known as the "shot glass heard 'round the world", along with Sylvia who launched a bottle at the cops. The tone became furious and violent as brutality from the police department ensued. One of my favorite and the most famous moments is when a kick line of drag queens and trans-women broke out, singing "we are the stonewall girls, we wear our hair in curls, we don't wear underwear, we show our pubic hair". This night, people of the LGBTQA+ community could vent their anger. The riots went on for days after and the most well known members of the riot continued onto creating their own organizations. Sylvia and Marsha formed STAR, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, The Gay Liberation Front, an organization most well known for gay pride was also made. Miss Major and Storme DeLaverie both went onto to making speeches all over the country and standing up for LGBTQA+ rights.
   So with all these empowering advocates, why does the film portraying the event feature a fictional white man? Where are the lesbians? Trans-women? Where are the people of color? The Stonewall movie completely strips all true history from the event by not even mentioning a single one of these memorable women. It's absolutely devastating to see such an iconic event and moment in history be completely white washed by modern media and as much as I love the idea of there being piece in the mainstream about Stonewall, there is no way I can support this movie.


Remembering The Stonewall riot and the start of a movement

What Caused The Stonewall Riots (I SERIOUSLY recommend this one- Kat Blaque explains everything really easily and it's crazy well done)

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