NEW YORK -- History remembers the sacrifices of icons like Rosa Parks and the efforts of Dennis Banks, Cesar Chavez and other great defenders of American civil rights. However, less is known about the rise of the gay rights movement, which many say started as a result of the Stonewall Riots.
Bluewater Productions looks to commemorate the event and examine its legacy in an upcoming comic book.
“The Stonewall Riots,” scheduled for release on the 44th anniversary of the infamous New York City riots this June, centers around the events and culture leading up to the riots, the incident itself and its historical significance as the genesis of the gay pride movement.
“Civil rights are not just an American tradition; it’s a birthright,” Bluewater president Darren G. Davis said. “When I recognized that Stonewall was quickly fading into an obscure footnote, I had a obligation to remind people that civil rights comes in all colors, shapes, genders, political views and social choices.”
In June 1969, a Greenwich Village, New York bar frequented by the then underground gay community called The Stonewall was raided by police. This sparked a violent incident, which quickly escalated into a fully-fledged riot and six-day siege.
The 32-page comic book is written by Michael Troy and illustrated by David T. Cabrera.
“As time goes on, we’re in danger of losing this important touchstone of our cultural history. In an age where gay rights and marriage equality are still such hot buttons, it's more important now more than ever, to remember the efforts of those who fought for gay rights,” said Troy (“A Minute with Margot” and “The Gays on Film”).
The special edition comic book, which is being funded through a crowd sourcing campaign through indiegogo (like Kickstarter), is not the first book Bluewater has published that centers on gay issues. Several of the company’s popular biography comic books feature openly gay subjects such as RuPaul, Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell or cover alternative views on gay rights such as those covered in the Rush Limbaugh biography.
But more importantly, Bluewater was one of the first comic book publishing companies to breach the subject of HIV with their action-adventure fiction title “Lost Raven.” The main character learns he has been infected with the HIV virus and embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery. “Lost Raven” was awarded The Independent Book Publishers”, graphic novel of the year in 2009.
“Facing persecution, prosecution and a violation of civil rights, the homosexual community simply wouldn’t tolerate marginalization anymore,” Troy said. “But the aftermath of Stonewall lead to more demonstrations and eventually open dialogue and the establishment of some basic human rights. And that is what we are celebrating while we are flying those rainbow flags during the parades.”
According to Davis, interested patron can make financial pledges to the crowd sourcing campaign at the Indiegogo website.
Backers are entitled to various rewards based on their level of participation including being drawn into the comic, dedicating an issue and even having the books donated in their name to various national gay youth organizations. All of the money raised is being invested in the production, distribution and backer rewards of the book.
Bluewater’s biography comic book series has been embraced by the media and featured on television news outlets including The Today Show, The View, MTV, LOGO and on CNN. The series has also been featured in many publications.