Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Will Reina Gossett Finally Apologize for Her Social-Media Hit-and-Run on 'Marsha P. Johnson' Filmmaker David France?

Here we go again. The Advocate's Dawn Ennis conducted a three-month investigation into trans activist and filmmaker Reina Johnson's claims that David France "stole" the idea for a film about Marsha P. Johnson from her and concludes what every person who has taken the time to learn the facts has been saying all along: No, he didn't. France shared the story on social media, saying it reminded him of Pat Moynihan's helpful insight: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts."

“I think she literally believes that she discovered the archival videotape of Sylvia onstage in 1973, that her labor brought that tape to light in 2012,” France said. “Never mind that it is a famous tape, used in multiple previous films, on PBS in 1995 and HBO in 2011.”

Gossett's Instagram post felt like a cry for help -- and everyone answered. We were all horrified by what had happened to her -- and even the mainstream media jumped into action. (I reached out to ask what I could do to assist her.) But then slowly it began to appear that what she had written was done in haste. At first I cut her some slack, figuring the release of France's film (while hers floundered) might have been hard on her and that she had simply lashed out in a weak moment. But when she began dodging questions, I began to wonder if she had been wantonly misleading. When she did surface, she would talk to the press if only her side would be heard. As the cracks began to show -- following Jezebel's exhaustive investigation into the allegations -- I wondered if France would finally get an apology from Gossett, and the answer is this: I wouldn't hold your breath. She's still demanding one from him. And he doesn't want one from her -- opting for the high road, saying he wants only the chance to support what she's doing and to promote the work of trans filmmakers of color. And given what we now know -- that Gossett runs from or blocks anyone who points out inaccuracies in her aggrievement theory -- why would she take responsibility for defaming someone when she can hide behind falsehoods that play into a much larger narrative that is an actual societal problem? Hollywood is controlled by straight white men and it is harder for people of color -- especially trans people -- to get films made, so why not conflate it all here for attention at the expense of someone's reputation, right? (Oh, wait: I forgot about decency and integrity and not wanting to exploit the LGBTQ community, something an Ivy League-educated person like Gossett surely realizes she's doing.)

Now Gossett and collaborator Sasha Wortzel won't sit down with reporters and the only one they would interact with at all had to be done strictly by email. What might they be hiding from?

Perhaps they're afraid that the crux of Gossett's argument that trans people should be telling trans stories will be revealed to be a fraud. You see, what Gossett means is trans people should be telling trans stories -- unless she's involved. Then it's fine that her co-director is a cisgender white woman. (So if this is about keeping score, let the record show that "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson" wasn't a film just made by a cis white man: Laura Teodosio, the lead producer who is gender-nonconforming, told The Advocate that of the 22 people on the film’s research team, eight were people of color and five were transgender or gender non-confirming.) Or maybe they're afraid someone will ask what became of the more than $60,000 people donated to them years ago to make a film they never delivered, which is finally said to be coming in 2018. As a person familiar with the situation said to me, "I guarantee you that 'Happy Birthday, Marsha' will not come out this year because the problem is that Gossett and Wortzel are incompetent and want to blame other people for it."

To be clear, none of this brings me any joy. I just don't see why it's become acceptable in the LGBTQ community to trash one another based on false and hypocritical claims under the guise of who's "more woke." Intersectionality is a two-way street. Eventually even noted AIDS/LGBTQ activist Peter Staley weighed in, accusing Gossett of a social media "hit-and-run."

 Read Dawn Ennis's piece and decide for yourself HERE.

1 comment:

jaragon said...

There is a big difference between thinking about making a movie and actually making one.

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