‘The New York Times’ Asks Who Threw the First Brick at the Stonewall Riots?—WATCH

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The New York Times produced a great and informative video about the mythology around Stonewall.

Who threw the first brick at Stonewall? New York Times‘ reporter Shane O’Neill wanted to know the facts, so he’s taken to laying out the inconclusive results he’s found and constructing an informative narrative.

O’Neill writes:

They fall into three categories: earnest attempts to honor giants in the L.G.B.T.Q. movement (“Marsha P. Johnson threw the first brick at Stonewall”), tongue-in-cheek diva worship (“Madonna threw the first brick at Stonewall”) and satirical takedowns of straight celebrities who overplay their hand trying to be queer allies (“Nick Jonas threw the first brick at Stonewall”).

I love the silly first brick memes — my favorite to date being that Mario Kart Toadette threw the first brick — but the sincere ones that credited Sylvia Rivera or Marsha P. Johnson with inciting the Stonewall uprising gave me pause. The impact of Ms. Rivera and Ms. Johnson on the trans and gay movements can’t be overstated, but it doesn’t take much digging to learn that they didn’t start the Stonewall rebellion.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the internet can spread misinformation, but why had this particular fantasy of Stonewall taken on such importance in the queer imagination?

“Fifty years after Stonewall, we’re still arguing about what happened on that night. And that’s kind of the point: Stonewall was, at its core, about people reclaiming their narratives from a society that told them they were sick or pitiful or didn’t even exist. Getting to tell your own story is a gift, but it means that you have to contend with other people’s stories, and I guess that can mean arguing, maybe for 50 years straight. And that’s O.K.”

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