Monday, August 10, 2015

For once, Larry Kramer, don't talk. LISTEN

There is a lot of anger and confusion about the upcoming Stonewall movie. Based upon what was seen in the trailer, many lgbts are worried that the movie, which chronicles the riots in New York, which many feel led to the modern lgbt equality movement, will omit key lgbt of color personalities during those riots.

In other words, they are fearful that the movie will "whitewash" the entire incident. Because of that, there have been petitions, threats of boycotts, and an online storm of condemnations. Now I am not one to judge a movie solely based upon a trailer. However, on the other hand, trailers are generally shown to garner interest in a movie so there is nothing wrong with people expressing their displeasure if a trailer causes the opposite reaction.

So to tell the truth, I'm not necessarily concerned either way. However, I am concerned by the recent remarks made by  legendary lgbt activist and playwright Larry Kramer:

don’t listen to the crazies. for some reason there is a group of “activists” that insists on maintaining their prime importance and participation during this riot. unfortunately there seems no one left alive to say “it wasnt that way at all”, or “who are or where the f— were you.” as with so much history there is no way to “prove” a lot of stuff, which allows artists such as yourself (and me I might add) to take essences and attempt to find and convey meaning and truth. i sincerely hope this boycott your film s— peters out. we are not dealing with another “Cruising” here. keeping your film from being seen is only hurting ourselves. good luck and thank you for your passion. larry kramer

While Kramer does somewhat make a good point,  I found his tone to be rather ignorant and indicative of the problem.

You see, my opinion is that this anger regarding Stonewall is not just about the movie. It is about the lgbt equality movement in general.  I've always felt that the movement was too limited by what we are told to embrace, what we are told to believe, and what we are told should be our history.

When people talk about my ethnicity (African-American) or my region (the South) when it comes to being an lgbt, I get a mixture of pity and sadness. There seems to be this belief in our community that if you live in the South, you are disconnected from the community, except for being something like a Morlock in a homophobic No Man's Land.

And when you are black, you are pulled into transitory conversations about diversity and such, but you still never know what your history is when it pertains to lgbts.  All of the prominent spokespeople in our community you hear about who made a visible impact - from Frank Kameny to Larry Kramer - are generally white and male.  You ask where were the black lgbts who led organizations or who wrote books and were given a platform such as the cover of The Advocate magazine. Hell, where are they now?

In general, I guess I am trying to say that the anger over the Stonewall movie is merely a reaction to the fact that many prominent folks in our community aren't acknowledging that we are becoming not only more diverse but outspoken. And one thing we are speaking out about is that we are tired of the same visuals which does not include lgbts of color being visible leaders.

No disrespect meant, but what bothers me about Mr. Kramer is I don't know if he is aware of that.  This one time his blustery "tell it like it is" attitude isn't exactly "telling it like it is." Kramer is "telling it like it was," but it's not that way anymore.


steevee said...

Kramer could have phrased his comments more gingerly, but he's a man who's legendary for his anger. If I had said what he said, I would've said something like "the rebellion at Stonewall happened in 1969, people's memories have grown dimmer, and some of the people who participated are no longer with us, so it's hard to judge the historical accuracy of this movie." As for your larger point, I was taken aback that 95% of the people in the trailer are white and hope the actual movie is more diverse, but is boycotting a movie the best way to get more visibility for LGBT people of color? After all, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS & BASIC INSTINCT were huge hits, despite our community's protests. The boycotts and protests might just raise the curiosity of white gay men who value entertainment over politics or historical accuracy.

Will said...

Considering no one really knows what ot who started the riots this is a moot point. Over the years. Marsha threw a brick, Marsha pulled up a parking meter to use as a battering ram. Sylvia threw pennies. Sylvia threw a brick, Sylvia threw high heels. They were in the bar. They were not in the bar. Honestly. Sylvia, Marsha and 100's more of all colors, and sexual orientation were involved in the three nights of rioting but there has never been any proof of who started it. The nights events ere not even documented till 15 years AFTER it happened. It will always be surrounded by folklore and no one will never know. Its not who started it thats important its that it happened and to me any group which is trying to take credit or give credit right now is just as bad as they say Roland Emmerich.

Steph Mineart said...

Miss Majors is very much alive, and she had a lot to say about what really happened. She was one of the people speaking out for the Trans Oral History Project and is openly protesting this movie.

Erica Cook said...

I won't watch it for one reason. It says it is a historical movie; A depiction of things that happened, and they aren't showing what happened. It would be no less ridiculous than if they did a movie on the discovery of atomic energy and made Madame Curie a man to suit the story. If they called it fiction and said it was inspired by the stonewall riots I'd go see it.
My dad’s a retired history teacher. I grew up on historical movies as much as I did on cartoons. If my dad was going to sit down to watch a movie about something, and they changed a fundamental part of it like, who started it he’d turn it off and refuse to watch it. Because it isn’t historical, it’s a slap in the face to the real history. They only reason I can see to take out the pivotal part transgender people and drag queens played is to try and say they aren’t a part of our community. I won’t be a part of that. I also won’t be a part of giving credit where it is NOT due. A white boy from a middle class household who never new oppression if it weren’t for being gay didn’t throw the first brick.

I’m sorry if that makes you feel as though I am condescending to you, but I’m sick of people pretending away parts of history that don’t give with what they want to believe. It’s no better than the guy I’m arguing with who is trying to say that the holocaust wasn’t really all that bad.

Unknown said...

Erica, actually, the trailer does say "Inspired by the incredible true story." However, I share your dislike of fictionalized history. Emmerich couldn't find one real person whose story was worth telling? He had to invent a cute, non-threatening, middle-class, Middle American white boy for the protagonist? It doesn't set well with me. But I do plan to watch the movie.