The Gay-Straight Alliance Network has announced their intent to boycott Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall, a “whitewashed propaganda” film about the gay rights movement.
If Roland Emmerich was going for the vibe of Pride when making Stonewall, it looks like he missed by miles.
The movie, which premieres in U.S. cinemas today, stars Jeremy Irvine as Danny, our entry-point character into a story about the 1969 riots against police brutality. The Stonewall Riots kicked off the gay rights movement in New York City, and ostensibly, this movie is all about pride.
But Stonewall has failed to gain the support of the LGBTQ+ community — in fact, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network has released a statement slamming the movie for marginalizing people of color.
In the movie, main character Danny arrives in Manhattan just in time to become a central figure in the Stonewall Riots, leading the community and, literally, throwing the first brick.
He falls in love with another white character, played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, while the movie’s only main non-white character, Ray/Ramona (Jonny Beauchamp) is portrayed as someone who, while sympathetic, is completely disregarded as a potential romantic partner for our hunky white hero (according to a scathing review by Vanity Fair).
In their statement, the Gay-Straight Alliance slams the movie as, “a whitewashed version of queer history,” explaining, “it is time that black and brown transwomyn and drag queens are recognized for their efforts in the riots throughout the nation. Majority of characters casted are white actors, cis men play the role of transwomyn, and folks who began the riots do not seem to be credited with such revolutionary acts.”
Both Roland Emmerich and Stonewall screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz are openly gay, and Emmerich has previously admitted that he intentionally inserted a character he could relate to — a young gay white guy — into a historic event which, in actuality, belonged to another segment of the population, namely transgender people of color.
“I didn’t make this movie only for gay people, I made it also for straight people,” Emmerich told Buzzfeed (via The Wrap). “As a director you have to put yourself in your movies, and I’m white and gay.”
Speaking to The Wrap, President of BiNet USA Faith Cheltenham elaborates on why the community is reacting so strongly to Emmerich’s movie.
“Fiction still has a responsibility. Filmmakers have a responsibility to not re-create history, to not take someone else’s history and turn it into their own,” she says. “That’s an affront to civility, really. And it’s theft. It’s the wholesale appropriation of a group of people that were there.”