The controversy surrounding Roland Emmerich’s upcoming film Stonewall has reached the steps of the titled New York City bar as two (of four) statues commemorating gay liberation and the legendary 1969 riots located outside the Stonewall Inn in the West Village have been painted brown and redressed in wigs and bras by activists.
“Those sculptures are supposedly there to commemorate the Stonewall riots, but there isn’t a trace of the actual riots in them,” the anonymous activists/vandals (depending on how you want to look at it), two queer gender non-conforming women in their 20s, one white and one a Latina immigrant, said in an interview on AutoStraddle.
A sign was placed next to the statues which reads, “Black Latina trans women led the riots. Stop the whitewashing.”
When artist George Sagal was commissioned to create the monument by wealthy arts patron Peter Putnam in 1980, his instructions were that it “had to be loving and caring, and show the affection that is the hallmark of gay people…and it had to have equal representation of men and women.”
But for those who already feel that Emmerich’s film erases trans and POC history, the statues represent yet another whitewashing of the queer experience.
— Not Our Stonewall (@NotOurStonewall) August 18, 2015
The art-modifiers were inspired by trans activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy (who was present at the riots), who recently had this to say about the statues:
“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 anonymous painters had one final message to the people who would inevitably be cleaning the defaced sculptures:
“Brown and black lacquer exists. Think about what it means to repaint the statues white, and then stop.”
According to Tweets, the alterations have already been removed:
Is this an appropriate act of defiance or merely a disrespectful defacement of art?