in quotes

Stonewall’s Most Noted Historian Says Film “Is No Credit To The History It Purports To Portray”

51Rxym13fYL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I was looking forward to a literal rendition of the excitement of a riot. I constructed that carefully in my book to show the drama, and if they had just stuck to the actual facts, it would have been much more powerful. To me, this was a very lame and inaccurate portrayal.

I liked the character of Ray in the film. But he’s supposed to be based in part on Raymond Castro, who was nothing like that. Ray Castro was a very masculine guy, a generous guy – and very conservative-looking. He wasn’t effeminate – he never went in drag. He didn’t prostitute himself, either.

Ray Castro’s story is he was the one who had the big fight with the police as they were trying to get them inside the police wagon [on the night of the riot]. He was handcuffed in the patrol wagon to a lesbian and he got her a lawyer – he wouldn’t let her pay for the lawyer. That led to his arrest: he had gotten out of the Stonewall Inn after the raid, and then came back to see what was going on and tried to help a friend. If you just kept to the story as it was, it would have added a lot to the script.

2B1930BD00000578-0-image-m-2_1438716150171The film is also extremely unfair to the Mattachine Society. The Trevor character is mainly based on Craig Rodwell, who was actually the one who first shouted “Gay power!” on the first night [as Danny does in the film]. In Stonewall, he’s seen trying to stop Danny from participating in the uprising. Yet Rodwell was not only an ardent supporter of the uprising, he was the event’s chief propagandist. So the film stands history on its head.

The worst people in the film, besides the open homophobes, are shown to be the [Mattachine] movement before Stonewall. The real-life Frank Kameny [cofounder of the Washington, DC, branch of the Mattachine Society] was nothing like the Frank in the film. He wouldn’t have told a young man coming out that: “You can never be an astronomer.” He never discouraged anyone’s dreams.

" STONEWALL " Photo by Philippe Bosse

The film also put forth some negative portrayals of gays that we had back in the 1960s. The Sister Tooey character is very awful-looking and bizarre. The same thing with the overweight guy in the red dress. The guy who picks him up at the basketball court is sort of weird-looking as well.

And it was very disappointing to me to see the death and funeral of Judy Garland used yet again as part of an explanation for the Stonewall uprising. That has been thoroughly discredited by historical research. And this film is no credit to the history it purports to portray.”


David Carter, considered the foremost Stonewall historian and author of  the compulsively-readable Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Revolution, in an article for The Guardian about response to the new Roland Emmerich film

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  • Nate Gallagher

    How disappointing that people who don’t know the true story are going to, most likely, believe the events as they play out in this fictionalized account. The filmmaker should be ashamed.

  • Brian JC Kneeland

    It is not a documentary but a piece of fiction that tells of a group of white friends. Not sure how I feel about it until I see it!

  • Jean-Claude Poulin

    All filmakers should realize after this to NEVER ever do a film about gays. This film has been attacked from its first rumors of existence.. Most vehemently before anyone even saw it. This was a waste of time money and effort from its very concept. More than half the gay population worships self loathing and negativity, and pretty much hate everything anyway. (lol)

  • Amaurys Arias

    This so call historian is no better then Emmerich when it come to the erasure of black, Latino and trans people.

    You can read it in his straight acting defense of Castro and highlight of the white patrons of stonewall …
    His Stonewall book is a much a whitewashed fantasy and trans erasure as the movie ….

    He is worse. He uses actually history to highlight the straight acting an white patron while erasing and down playing everyone else…. You can hear the disdain he has for non straight acting and how eager he is to talk about white participants in this article…

  • pjm1

    @Amaurys Arias: Or you can actually read David Carter’s
    book and then make a statement about what it says and doesn’t say. I can tell you Marsha Johnson
    and others are given great credit and a great deal of the credit going to the effeminate street kids —
    but really, I would suggest reading the book. And what is your basis for calling the book a “whitewashed
    fantasy”? Do you have an alternative book or documentary that you can suggest?

  • pjm1

    @Jean-Claude Poulin: Tell that to the Academy Award
    winners who were part of Milk to not do any more movies. Was “Milk” attacked in the same
    way as “Stonewall”? I do not recall that.

  • pjm1

    @Brian JC Kneeland: Yeah, but the movie
    is titled “Stonewall” so maybe perhaps people may think it is about the actual event,
    you know, the one that took place on June 28, 1969, and not the fictional account based
    on a pretend character that threw the first brick
    — not when we know some of the original progenitors.

  • Gus Anderson

    I look forward to viewing his retelling of the tale.

  • animaux

    @pjm1: Milk belongs in the “gay dies at the end” genre. Gay movies are not allowed to be fun, silly, life confirming and optimistic.

  • animaux

    “I was looking forward to a literal rendition of the excitement of a riot. I constructed that carefully in my book to show the drama, and if they had just stuck to the actual facts, it would have been much more powerful.”

    You can’t make such movie (both explaning the backround of the charaters and being literally about the riots). Even if you could, it would be a docu-drama and would be missing the point.

    Second, a movie like Selma would be an even worse disaster. We gays are the oposite of solemn and pretentious.

    Stonwall is still a cinematic milestone, being the first mainstream entertainment movie about LGBT issues.

  • Keith Perdue

    Just the trailor turns me off, it was obviously a highly “movie-ized” piece of Hollywood bs…

  • Victor Barry

    I trust none of the whiners. They’ve been complaining for weeks about a movie that just opened today. Agenda?

  • Brycedavid

    Mr Carter’s book is dismissed by Trans and SJWs as inaccurate and transphobic since, according to them, Trans and POC were the ONLY people involved in the riots. So now Mr Carter reviews the movie but his criticism is centred around other things. He doesn’t seem to realize that his book is being vilified by the T as something thoroughly negative. Did you hear, mr Carter, only Trans and POC were part of the riots, no ‘cis white gay men.’

  • Octavio Roca

    That was the problem with Selma, but it was still a hood thing the film was made.

  • judysdad

    Anyone else notice the actual real-life photo on the cover of Carter’s book? No trans, no drags, no people of color. In fact, I do believe I see an actual blond white male.

    Give it a fuckin’ rest. How trans people have been plopped in the big middle of the G/L/B community is beyond me. Many, if not most of them, don’t even identify as gay and few of them want anything to do with the actual G/L/B community.

  • Corey J Hodges

    I believe it was Robin Williams who (in character) once said “avoid using the word ??very?? because it??s lazy.”

    I won’t critique the movie until I see it, but the critic has lost my respect for journalistic reasons alone, regardless of the material value in his arguments.

    Queerty – you know better than to perpetuate this pot-stirring rabble…

  • Ummmm Yeah

    David Carter lost all credit when he had to stretch into background players “look funny” to find enough bad things to say to make a short article.

  • Ummmm Yeah

    @judysdad: You are 100% right. In fact most of them are homophobic.

  • Ummmm Yeah

    @Amaurys Arias: Give it up. You are not going to steal Stonewall from the majority white gay men that were there.

  • Dev.C

    I saw the movie and I can see that Emmerich thought he was doing a good thing, but this fictional portrayal is pretty offensive at times. It’s works as a fictional story about a small town white boy coming of age as a gay man in the 60’s, but that certainly isn’t a revolutionary concept.

    It’s a bit confusing as to what he was really trying to convey because at times it seems he was trying to show emotional turmoil of the times through his “apparent straight acting” white main character and his stereotypical gypsy sidekicks, but the historical aspect was just used as a backdrop and nothing else.

    While it is heartwarming at times, It just infuriates you more that he didn’t make a good movie about the truth, he just made a movie for himself.

  • rand503

    @animaux: That’s just total, utter, 100% bull crap. I was the operations manager for a major LGBT filmiest for many years, and year after year, we showed wonderful films, shorts and full length as well as docs, that showed our stories in truthful, life affirming ways. The audiences loved these films and applauded at the end.

  • Brycedavid

    Rand503, Stonewall is a mainstream movie. Not some obscure festival or repertoire.

    There’s nothing wrong in using fictitious characters set against real historical events. Plenty of films and novels have done this. Criticizing this film over this detail is point blank stupid.

  • Saltsan

    @Jean-Claude Poulin: Hummm. I don’t recall much, if any real controversy regarding MILK, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, A SINGLE MAN, LONGTIME COMPANION, GRANDMA (currently out and about a lesbian senior citizen) or a dozen others that come to mind. If a film does engender controversy in the GLBTQ community, like DALLAS BUYERS CLUB or PHILADELPHIA it very often deserves it. This film sure does.

  • Saltsan


  • scotshot


    SMH. One of the more moronic comments ever posted on Queerty.

  • scotshot

    @Brycedavid: It’s not a detail it’s a major flaw of a film composed of flaws. Insulting and demeaning to its subject.

  • Cam

    I don’t think that Emmeriche was intentionally trying to soften the movie for a wider straight audience.

    However, I did read this teaser for it in GQ

    Stonewall: 1hr 45 min. See a young midwest dude head out to NYC. Will he win the bet to lose his virginity to the hottest cheerleader in his school, or will he have to admit to his frat pledge brothers that he’s still a virgin. Staring, Generic Dude playing Midwest Dude, Starring, Betty and Veronica Poke playing Cliche Slutty Twins, and Lisa Leggs as the girl that everybody thought was a cliche, but was really just misunderstood. Special Guest Star Nickie Knockers as Dead De-Viginator.
    Rated R for Tits and Ass.

  • MacAdvisor

    I suspect, like most other big, messy, historical events, there are as many Stonewall stories and viewpoints as there were participants and probably even a few more. Know one has a “lock” on what exactly happened. The question isn’t if this film portrays everyone and every event accurately, but if it gets the emotional tone right. That is about the best that can be expected. Will a large number of mainly straight Americans see this movie as an accurate representation of events? Yeah, probably so, but most Americans have so much of our country’s history wrong that one more piece here probably won’t make any difference.
    The question is not “is this movie historically accurate?” but, “Is this movie enjoyable to watch?”

  • Brycedavid


    Really? I guess you know nothing about films and novels. I could name 100s of films and books, highly regarded ones, that have done the exact same thing.

    Stay in the dark.

  • bicurious

    Who are you dimwits who want or expect “truth” in a work of fiction? I take no issue with people criticizing the film (if they have actually seen it) and its merit as a work of fiction or entertainment, but to criticize it and any other film for somehow not be true or accurate is something I just don’t understand.

  • Doughosier

    I saw the film and LOVED it. It mixes fictional characters with real characters, much like Titanic did. I don’t get the hate, I would say judge it for yourself. It brought tears to my eyes twice.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Doughosier: Finally someone who actually SAW the film. I can’t wait to see it myself.

  • AzLights

    @Ummmm Yeah: You and judysdad are correct. I lived with a couples where one of them was an MTF and both of them did nothing but put down gay and lesbian people and both would have DIED before ever being identified with the LGBT community.

  • Bisexual-Transwoman

    Ugh enough of this movie.

    @judysdad: I’m not like this as I’m bisexual and I happen to be trans and for LGBT rights/equality for everyone.

  • Mike

    bitch bitch bitch ….

Comments are closed.