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Film / TV

america’s first black trans woman finds new life in film series

April 29, 2019
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Filmmaker and activist Tourmaline is no stranger to telling queer stories and her latest project unpacks one of the least recognized in trans history. The project? A pair of short films about a 19th-century Black trans sex worker named Mary Jones. Although in recent years, historical scholarship has revealed a significant amount of detail about this enigmatic figure who is said to be the first self-identifying Black trans woman in American history. An OG queen scammer, if you will, Jones went on trial for pick-pocketing her Johns during the 1830s in New York City. But within several years, any documentation of Jones and her life had disappeared from public record.

Tourmaline took steps to fill in Jones’ lost history and bring her story back into our collective conscience. The first film, Salacia is a six-minute short starring Rowin Amone as Mary Jones that will play on look at the High Line park in NYC this summer, and the Brooklyn Museum, as part of the upcoming Stonewall exhibition, Nobody Promised You Tomorrow.

The second film Mary of Ill Fame also stars Amone and is 25-minutes in length. According to Tourmaline, that film is set to premiere later this year. Both films are executive-produced by Keanu Reeves. Yes, that Keanu Reeves.