Marsha P Johnson filmmaker accused of stealing research from black trans woman

The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson is essential viewing.

It was released on Netflix this past weekend, shining a spotlight on the mother of the gay liberation movement, her impact and legacy, and her mysterious death in 1992.

All these years later, Marsha’s disappearance remains a cold case, with police just writing it off as a suicide.

It highlights the discrimination trans people of colour did – and still do – face in the eyes of the law.

However, filmmaker David France who put the piece together has been accused of stealing research previously done by a black trans woman.

Reina Gossett took to Instagram to allege that much of her own work was used in the documentary, but she has not been given credit or financial compensation.

“This week while I’m borrowing money to pay rent, David France is releasing his multimillion dollar Netflix deal on Marsha P Johnson,” Reina starts on Instagram.

#deepshare #realtruth this week while I'm borrowing money to pay rent, david france is releasing his multimillion dollar netflix deal on marsha p johnson. i'm still lost in the music trying to #pay_it_no_mind and reeling on how this movie came to be and make so much $ off of our lives and ideas. david got inspired to make this film from a grant application video that @sashawortzel & I made and sent to Kalamazoo/Arcus Foundation social justice center while he was visiting. He told the people who worked there -i shit you not- that he should be the one to do this film, got a grant from Sundance/Arcus using my language and research about STAR, got Vimeo to remove my video of Sylvia's critical "y'all better quiet down" speech, ripped off decades of my archival research that i experienced so much violence to get, had his staff call Sasha up at work to get our contacts then hired my and Sasha's *ADVISOR* to our Marsha film Kimberly Reed to be his producer. And that's just the shit I have the spoons to name. TRUST????THERE'S????SO????MUCH ????MORE????. This kind of extraction/excavation of black life, disabled life, poor life, trans life is so old and so deeply connected to the violence Marsha had to deal with throughout her life. So I feel so much rage and grief over all of this & STAR must have some serious level plan on moving through many—and clearly by any means necessary—to get the message out… So tonight I'm channeling high priestess energy to show me the honey throne cuz this storm queen is ????????????

A post shared by Reina Gossett (@reinaxgossett) on

She continues to claim how France was inspired by her work with Sasha Wortzel, and “ripped off decades of my archival research”.

“This kind of extraction/excavation of black life, disabled life, poor life, trans life is so old and so deeply connected to the violence Marsha had to deal with throughout her life,” Reina added.

Trans activist Janet Mock came out in support of Reina, highlighting her claims on her own social media.

‪Filmmaker David France released a documentary on Netflix Friday about Marsha P. Johnson. It is based on Reina Gossett’s…

Posted by Janet Mock on Saturday, 7 October 2017

It prompted a direct response from France himself, who claimed that he started his research back in 1992.

However, he did admit to having seen Reina and Sasha’s documentary about Marsha P Johnson, titled Happy Birthday Marsha.

“I learned of Happy Birthday Marsha well into our work and reached out, worried we were duplicating efforts,” he said.

“Marsha’s and Sylvia [Rivera]’s inspiring stories have been told before and must be told again with many voices, especially by trans woman of colour who have an even harder time raising funds than we did.

“That’s why we fully support Reina and Sasha’s beautiful film.”

The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson is available to stream on Netflix now.



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