Tag Archives: Storme DeLarverie

Does This Mean We Don’t Have to Whitewash Stonewall?

Debbie says:

Anyone with more than the slightest acquaintance with gay/queer history in the United States in the last fifty years knows about the Stonewall “riots” (I would call them response to police terrorism, myself) of 1969. Anyone who pays attention knows that the leaders of the disturbances were mostly cross-dressing people of color, including Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie and Miss Major Griffen-Gracy.

Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and other Stonewall heroes marching in 1979.
Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and other Stonewall heroes marching in 1979.

Stonewall’s story has been repeatedly whitewashed in the intervening 45 years, and activists have repeatedly been forced to step up and remind whatever segment of the mainstream is providing this misinformation that this story is not a story of white men.

Now, Hollywood is getting into the act, with Stonewall, scheduled to release in September, starring a bunch of cis white men. Director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, among others), who has been honored by GLAAD for fighting media defamation of LGBT people (!), is covering himself with the opposite of glory (I don’t know about you, but I think of the opposite of glory as being brown and stinky and unwelcome in polite company).

Mey at Autostraddle previewed the film and says it is ” a false, whitewashed and ciswashed version, a version that the establishment could find respectable enough to be a mainstream story.” Mey also interviewed Miss Major Griffen-Gracy, a Black activist trans woman who participated in the Stonewall Riots:

My first thought is: how dare they attempt to do this again? A few years ago they did another Stonewall movie, and I swear if I saw a black person, it had to be a shadow running against the face of somebody who was white!

It’s absolutely absurd — you know, young people today aren’t stupid. They can read the history, they know that this is not the way it happened. These people can’t let it go! Everybody can’t be white! This is a country of different colors and people and thoughts and attitudes and feelings, and they try to make all of those the same for some reason.

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.

And these were wonderful, marvelous, smart, intelligent girls. Yeah, we couldn’t get jobs making sixty thousand dollars a year, oh well. But we lived our true selves. We enjoyed our lives. We did what we had to do to survive. And we did! And now they’re acting like, “we’re so grateful that you did this and we’re going to take it from here because you stupid bitches don’t know how to do this.” Yeah, okay. Because I’m not white, I didn’t go to Harvard or Yale, and my parents don’t have money. What does any of that have to do with the facts? Nothing.

Read the rest of Miss Major’s interview, which provides a lot of honest, honestly colored history and context for Stonewall.  I wish I believed Roland Emmerich was ashamed of himself.

Too Many Interesting Topics!

Laurie and Debbie say:

We were going to write our usual single-topic post today, but we kept sending each other too many interesting options. So here are a bunch of body image articles that we hope will interest you as much as they interest us:

Sins Invalid is a performance project on disability and sexuality. Sparkymonster linked to this post at Dis/positional featuring excerpts from Matt Fraser’s performance at the 2009 performance series in San Francisco.

It’s really good art and a powerful expression of the issues. We really want to see what he does next!

In the same post, Sparkymonster points out American Able, artist Holly Norris’s social commentary pastiches on a series American Apparel ads. Norris, and her model Jes Sachse, “intend to, through spoof, reveal the ways in which women with disabilities are invisibilized in advertising and mass media.” Norris has protected her work against reproduction around the Web and the blogosphere, so be sure and click through and take a look.

The whole feminist blogosphere is talking about the horrific procedures being done through the Medical College of Cornell University, in which babies who have large clitorises are subjected to surgeries and very very nasty follow-up procedures as young girls to “determine that they still experience sexual sensitivity.” (Very triggering information at the link.) Not only is this wrong in all the ways we’re sure you can imagine, it also (in the case of some of the young girls) disguises the reality of intersexuality into a vague and unfocused “abnormality” which is, without data, considered a “psychological risk.” Bird of Paradox, in one of many fine responses, focuses on the intersexuality issue.

I have to say that I’m completely mystified why the writers of any article detailing such shocking treatment and human rights abuses against intersex children should feel it necessary to leave out the salient fact that the subjects of the research are intersex. But one thing is clear: if we, as a society, are going to condone the treatment of intersex people like worthless lab rats and then deliberately airbrush them out of high-profile news stories about the injustices they’ve suffered, then how are we ever going to be able to start making amends for the human rights abuses inflicted against them in the name of medical science?

On a related note, professor and novelist Nnedi Okorafor writes about African reactions to her new novel, Who Fears Death, which approaches female genital cutting from a different perspective.

I am very proud of my Igbo-ness. However, culture is alive and it is fluid. It is not made of stone nor is it absolute. Some traditions/practices will be discarded and some will be added, but the culture still remains what it is. It is like a shape-shifting octopus that can lose a tentacle but still remain a shape-shifting octopus (yes, that image is meant to be complicated). Just because I believe that aspects of my culture are problematic does not mean I am “betraying” my people by pointing out those problems.

If you don’t think all bodies are beautiful, does that mean you have to think some of them are ugly enough to decapitate and replace with advertising? Interbest Outdoor Billboards has a new campaign to fill their billboard space that Shakesville finds especially disturbing.

picture of a white supersize woman in profile, wearing a white bra and panties. The photograph is cropped at the top so you can only see the tiniest bit of her chin. The caption is "The sooner you advertise here, the better." On the right, the same picture in the distance, on a billboard.

What we notice here is that despite the snapshot quality of the photograph, for anyone who can shed their preconceptions, she’s attractive. One of the two other photos in the campaign (which you can see at the link) is a white man with his hands behind his back, so that his hairy chest and not-terribly big potbelly show over his white briefs. The photograph is cropped below his shoulders. He looks just fine to us. The campaign also includes a third photo, which is a close-up of an unshaved man picking his nose which, as Melissa at Shakesville points out, implies that “being fat is just a bad habit you don’t have the will or courtesy to break.”

Last week, Debbie posted about Neli, the young man who was arrested for being autistic and black. In the comments of that post, his mother pointed to this video, in which Neli tells his own story.

On the occasion of New York’s Gay Pride Day, the New York Times published a feature on Storme DeLarverie,, now in a nursing home in Brooklyn, “who fought the police in 1969 at the historic riot at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village that kicked off the gay rights movement.” The article gives us some background on Ms. Delarverie and also reminds readers that “the first gay pride parade in 1970 was not a parade at all but a protest marking the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.”

Let us close with a fat-positive U.S. government stamp. There’s a nice short biography of Kate Smith at this link.

Kate Smith, famous singer, wearing an evening gown, and smiling at the camera