Looking Back

Setting Stonewall Straight

September 29, 2015

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Setting Stonewall Straight

I’m just finding out that Roland Emmerich is gay. Wow, does that ever put his orgasmic famous-landmark explosions in Independence Day, White House Down, and The Day After Tomorrow in a whole new CGI light!

Emmerich is best known for those and other such disaster movies, but according to some critics, his new movie is a disaster, period.

Stonewall supposedly tells the story of the multiday riots in New York City in 1969 that, in gay pop history shorthand, spawned the—what is it this week?—LGBTTIQQ2SA “pride”/“civil”/ “human rights” movement.

Vulture, Salon, and the ever-reliable Jezebel are all pissed that Emmerich’s movie hero is a fictional Caucasian boy from out of town—“a shiny white cis man”—instead of the nonfictional and “extremely awesome trans activists of color” who, legend has it, were the riot’s real catalysts.

Now, if Stonewall were “my” story, I might be pissed too. (I’m the geek who’s still angry, almost 30 years later, about a movie character being shoved into the wrong T-shirt…)

And no, it’s not “just a movie.” Our head-shaking disapproval can’t change the indisputable fact that most people absorb what little they know about history from pop culture, not classrooms, and have done so for a few generations.

“To their credit, not a few liberal gay men have been trying, for decades, to demythologize the Stonewall ‘rebellion.’”

We all have libraries literally at our fingertips, but still, the average individual doesn’t investigate beyond the end credits of such virulent bullshit carriers as Emmerich’s own unforgivable The Patriot, or Braveheart, or (the sickeningly slanderous) Titanic, or—may God have mercy on our souls—JFK.

(And don’t get me, as a Canadian, started on goddamn Argo...)

Anyway, clearly Emmerich’s gayness hasn’t earned him a jot of goodwill from among these #NotMyStonewall faultfinders, who are (of course) calling for a boycott of the film.

I don’t understand why he isn’t pushing back using the one biological weapon to which these bitchy keyboard warriors have little built-up immunity:

The truth.

As I put it here last year:

Most commenters fail to point this out: the Stonewall was a filthy, Mafia-owned dive bar….

Dear gays: When your Alamo has glory holes instead of bullet holes, that tells the rest of us more than you probably intended about your true motivations and priorities….

[T]o hear some of them talk, the gay rights movement’s proudest accomplishment—hence these parades’ universal moniker—is that they now get to move the party outside once a year, with the blessing of multinational corporations and the state.

But don’t take this bitchy old straight right-winger’s word for it. To their credit, not a few liberal gay men have been trying, for decades, to demythologize the Stonewall “rebellion.”

* In no less than The Advocate, back in 1987, Robert Amsel began a long essay on the topic by recalling opening night at yet another play about the “uprising.” Setting: The Stonewall Inn, New York City. Date and time: 3 a.m., June 28, 1969

When the curtain fell, he said to his friend, “Well, at least they got the time right.”

Amsel quotes the Gay Liberation Front’s John Murphy, who complained as early as 1971 that “the ‘victory’ of Stonewall…was a ‘dubious’ achievement that ‘perpetuated the cycle of ghettos and insularity that has kept the gay world from confronting the straight world.’”