That’s nothing new. Except that controversy keeps bubbling about the main character in the new movie, Stonewall. He is a white cisgender male (Jeremy Irvine). The creative choice by director Roland Emmerich to go Hollywood Vanilla is being called a slap in the face of the diverse peoples who were responsible for the 1969 uprising.
It was a diverse crowd and the “drag queens” picked up the bricks. But if you believe everyone you talk to now- there were probably, oh…I don’t know, 50-thousand people Stonewall?
Let’s admit it, we all want to believe we were a part of something historic. How many of us talk about our personal connection to the Twin Towers collapsing through various degrees of separation?
But you didn’t have be on the scene to be a part of that historic moment. Your story is just as valuable because of what you felt in the spot where you stood.
Just for context, this 1974 clip from our documentary about LGBT home movies, Reel In The Closet, is of a self-described “drag queen” calling on her companions to participate in pride events because it was they who started the gay freedom movement with the Stonewall Riots. So even then there was an understanding that they were the big story.
But just as interesting to me is who whispered about it on a college campus in Ohio, at a gay bar in Albuquerque or read about it on the pages of Pravda as more proof of the decedent West. All of us who came after want to know what THAT was like too.
The National Park will probably soon have audio tours of Stonewall with first person accounts recalling the blow by blow of what happened there. You will hear a lot of diverse voices. But memories of those days, from every walk of life- from all over the world, are what remains unrecorded. And it’s on ALL of us to tell our own story until queer history is ubiquitous, or we lose the right to complain when somebody gets it wrong.
I thank Daniel Smith for making then saving the community production, Queer Blue Light throughout the 1970s.
We are grateful to the GLBT Historical Society for taking good care of the dozen’s of reels of B&W videotape that he donated.
More old queer home movies.