Stonewall statues painted brown amid ‘whitewashing’ film claims

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Statues opposite New York City’s iconic Stonewall Inn have been painted brown in protest of the new film.

Following the recent release of the first trailer for Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall – which is based on the build-up to the 1969 Stonewall riots at New York gay bar the Stonewall Inn – thousands of LGBT people announced plans to boycott the film.

Openly gay director Emmerich has come under fire amid claims of “whitewashing” the historic event and ignoring the real-life drag queens and trans women of colour who are credited with starting the LGBT rights movement.

In further protest, two anonymous activists have painted The Gay Liberation Monument – white lacquer sculptures placed opposite the venue to commemorate the riots – brown and dressed them in dark wigs and colourful clothing, in a bid to reflect the true style and identity of Stonewall-era trans women.

“Those sculptures are supposedly there to commemorate the Stonewall riots – but there isn’t a trace of the actual riots in them,” the protesters told Autostraddle.

“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 LGBT liberation.”

The activists claimed that veterans of the riots like Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera have been airbrushed out of the centre of the story in favour of a fictional gay man.

“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.”

“What we did was rectification, not vandalism,” they added.

“I know that some people are going to be angry, but I’m not concerned with preserving bullshit art. I’m angry about the whitewashing of LGBT history.”

The Gay Liberation Monument was commissioned in 1979 to commemorate the riots, but was considered too “explicit” for New Yorkers, as it featured same-sex couples touching. The monument was eventually moved to the city in 1992.

It is the first piece of public art dedicated solely to LGBT rights.

Both Jeremy Irvine – who plays the lead in the film – and Emmerich have released statements on social media defending the film.