There has been a lot of debate over the depiction of historical events in the upcoming Stonewall film, which (from the looks of the first trailer) presents a fictionalized, white, cisgender man named Danny as the protagonist...
...while largely ignoring the queer and trans people of color who played pivotal roles at the riots.
And now two anonymous activists have taken action by giving the statues across the street from the Stonewall Inn a complete makeover — wigs, bras, and a fresh coat of brown paint.
A sign placed at the site in the West Village's Christopher Street Park reads, "Black Latina trans women led the riots. Stop the whitewashing." The statues (four in total) by artist George Segal were cast in 1980 from plaster molds of human models to honor the gay rights movement and the riots that took place at the Stonewall Inn.
The activists were prompted by a recent Autostraddle interview in which trans activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy (who was present at the riots) called out the Gay Liberation statue display as yet another form of erasure:
"It's bad enough that across the street from Stonewall, they have statues up to commemorate that night. That's cute, but there's not a black statue there! The statues look like they're made from flour and sugar! What is this? Why can't one of the girls go up and throw up a little makeup on one of these bitches? And I'm sorry, but the last time I checked, the only gay people I saw hanging around there were across the street cheering. They were not the ones getting slugged or having stones thrown at them. It's just aggravating. And hurtful! For all the girls who are no longer here who can't say anything, this movie just acts like they didn't exist."
The pair claiming to be responsible granted Autostraddle an anonymous interview. The pair provided only that they are "queer and gender non-conforming" individuals in their twenties — one white and one a Latina immigrant.
"Those sculptures are supposedly there to commemorate the Stonewall riots, but there isn’t a trace of the actual riots in them," they said in their email interview.
"They're a slap across the face to the Black and Latina trans women who got whacked with batons and shoved into police vans, and still had the guts to continue to lead the fight for LGBTQ liberation."
The duo also made it clear this was intended to be an act of "rectification," not vandalism. "We painted them because Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Miss Major, Storme DeLarverie and all the other Black and Brown people who led the movement deserve credit for their courage and strength."
They gave a final shout-out to the individuals who will most likely have to repaint the sculptures: "Brown and black lacquer exists. Think about what it means to repaint the statues white, and then stop."
Read the full interview on Autostraddle.