#NotOurStonewall Calls Out the White-Washing of LGBT History

Since the trailer for the film Stonewall was released earlier this month, it has faced mounting criticism from LGBT advocates. Many have accused filmmakers of erasing key roles played by trans people of color in the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City.

The film centers on the experiences of a fictional white, cisgender gay male named Danny who moves to the big city and quickly becomes immersed in the nascent LGBT rights movement. It portrays him throwing the first brick that sparked a riot and then a revolution at the Stonewall Inn.

Yay, some blah white dude saves the day, right? Wrong!

The person who threw the first brick is commonly thought to be this trans black woman right here: Marsha P. Johnson

The Stonewall trailer—and presumably the film—seems to downplay her part in launching the modern LGBT rights movement, as well as that of fellow trans activist Sylvia Rivera.

In response to Johnson and Rivera’s erasure, activists created the hashtag #NotOurStonewall, which they’ve used to call out the film and highlight how mainstream LGBT history frequently ignores the contributions of nonwhite people.

petition asking LGBT rights allies to boycott the film is already closing in on its goal of 25,000 signatures. It reads:

It is time that black and brown transwomyn and drag queens are recognized for their efforts in the riots throughout the nation. From the [Stonewall] preview alone, we know that will not be happening. Majority of characters casted [sic] are white actors, cis men play the role of transwomyn, and folks who began the riots do not seem to be credited with such revolutionary acts … Do not support a film that erases our history. Do not watch Stonewall.

If you want to support a movie that is historically accurate in its depiction of trans people and people of color during the Stonewall Riots, then see the forthcoming documentary Happy Birthday, Marsha! Or donate to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which provides legal aid to gender non-conforming people.

Also enjoy and share these memes created by Alejandro Juarez that poke fun at the white-washing of the Stonewall movie by photoshopping blah white dude Danny into pivotal Civil Rights movements throughout history.



Associate editor of Ms. magazine