This is the Marsha P. Johnson movie ‘Stonewall’ should’ve been

In case you didn’t read the reviews for Stonewall or see it in theaters (and the box office tells me that you did not), Roland Emmerich’s whitewashed, highly fictionalized retelling of the 1969 Stonewall riots was a mess. Thankfully, there’s a short film coming out soon that puts trans pioneer Marsha P. Johnson back where she belongs in the Stonewall narrative: at the forefront.

Happy Birthday, Marsha! is a short film written, directed, and produced by Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel starring Mya Taylor from Tangerine in the title role and Eve Lindley as Sylvia Rivera. The cast also includes Cherno Biko, Rios O’Leary-Tagiuri, and Grace Dunham. Check out the trailer below, which dropped Tuesday.

Happy Birthday, Marsha! is notable for many reasons, one of which is its diverse cast of trans and gender-nonconforming actors playing trans and gender-nonconforming roles. One of the filmmakers is a trans woman of color herself, which means that this is a story about a trans woman of color played by a trans woman of color as told by a trans woman of color. Literally when has this happened?

Gossett and Wortzel are currently crowdfunding $30,000 to cover post-production costs, like editing and festival submission fees. $30,000? That’s almost a fifth of what Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall grossed domestically! But seriously this movie looks really cool and pretty and you should consider donating if you’re into it.


Connecting Stonewall to Baltimore: A conversation with the filmmakers behind ‘Happy Birthday, Marsha!’