by David Pujol
The Stonewall Riots, which took place at the Stonewall Inn, located in New York City, were an influential part of LGBTQ history. It paved the way for many of the rights that LGBTQ individuals have today. To have Hollywood misrepresent that history by whitewashing it in a new film to sell tickets is just disrespectful.
The Stonewall Riots were violent outbursts that took place after the Stonewall Inn was raided for not having a liquor license. Although the police were legally in the right to raid the inn for not having a license, how the police handled the crowd of LGBTQ citizens at the time was not right.
The violent demonstrations that occurred that day would take place for an entire week making it the first major gay protest in recorded history. The film “Stonewall” is erasing our people, our history and our color.
The movie, directed by Ronald Emmerich, was released this year. What should’ve been another LGBTQ theatrical gem was a disappointing lump of coal. Emmerich apparently didn’t do his homework. Allow me to give you a history lesson. On June 28, 1969, in the neighborhood of Greenwich Village, police raided the Stonewall Inn and riots ensued shortly after and LGBTQ citizens were harassed.
Two of the people who sparked the riots were Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender woman, and Sylvia Rivera, a Hispanic drag queen. Screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz got it wrong. Instead of Johnson, Rivera or one of the other influential LGTBQ individuals who actually sparked the riots, it was a cisgender, white male who threw the first brick
Did they think that LGBTQ people would spend their money to watch an inaccurate representation of their history? Well, we didn’t. The movie’s budget of $17 million had a box office return of only $174,000. That’s not even one percent payback. So as Marsha P. Johnson historically said, “pay it no mind.”
These events are influential and sacred to our history. To have them altered and rearranged to fit the ideals of Hollywood is a great injustice to those who endured and participated in the riot and changed history. There are multiple eyewitness who can sure as hell tell us that it wasn’t a white male who changed history.
Whitewashing history isn’t an uncommon occurrence. The idea that history is being misrepresented and that those LGBTQ people of color who sparked a movement are being robbed of the credit they deserve, very disappointing to me as an LGBTQ person of color.
How the movie depicted the events of that historical night is wrong and very upsetting.
LGBTQ rights have advanced throughout our society’s history, but we need to keep making changes and keep improving. It’s our job to continue making this world a better place for all the LGBTQ people.
Pujol is an Aztec Press reporter and supporter of LGBTQ rights.