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Roland Emmerich's Gay-Rights Drama Stonewall Already Subject Of A Boycott

It’s only been a couple of days since the first trailer for Stonewall was released, but already people are calling for boycotts. Among the LGBT community there is a feeling, based on the trailer, that the film will do a poor job depicting the Stonewall Riots and the events that led up to them.

The issue, as summarized by The Hollywood Reporter, is this: The Stonewall Inn was a haven and hang out for everybody within the LGBTQ community, however, the trailer looks awfully white - as well as awfully cis male. A large contingent of the people involved in the events the film depicts were transgender women and people of color. While these people are not completely absent from the trailer, they are certainly in the background. This has led activists to accuse the film of whitewashing history and making white people the heroes of a story where they do not deserve that role. There are now a number of petitions and demands for boycotts going around the internet. The Gay Straight Alliance Network petition has over 11,000 signatures at the time of this article’s publication.

Jeremy Irvine stars in the film as "Danny," a fictionalized character, while the real life activists of the time, like Marsha P. Johnson and Ray Castro look to be relegated to supporting roles. For his part, Irvine says that the story is driven by Jonny Beauchamp’s role as Castro. The film also stars Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Ron Perlman

Director Roland Emmerich took to Facebook to defend the film. According to him, the final film will honor all of the people who began the struggle for gay civil rights, including those not seen in the trailer. You can read his message below:

When I first learned about the Stonewall Riots through my work with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, I was struck...Posted by Roland Emmerich on Thursday, August 6, 2015

If Emmerich is to be believed, it’s possible that this is just a poorly put together trailer and not actually a whitewashed movie. Of course, Emmerich may or may not have been directly involved in cutting the preview. Some directors take that level of control while many leave things like trailers to other people. He’s not taking responsibility for it, which he might do if he was shepherding the edit. He’s not throwing anybody under the bus either, but he likely wouldn’t do that, even if he could..

While films that try to tell the story of real events always take some liberties with the subject matter, this particular subject is still sensitive for a lot of people because gay and transgender people are still dealing with the discrimination that the Stonewall Riots brought out of the shadows. Stonewall is a movie that was never going to avoid controversy. In fact, that’s kind of the point. Stonewall hits theaters September 25th.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.