Director Roland Emmerich is responding to those calling for a boycott of his new film, Stonewall, because, they say, it erases the role of transgender people as well as people of color in the 1969 riots that gave rise to the modern LGBT rights movement.
The call for a boycott came in reaction a Stonewall trailer released this week that centers on Jeremy Irvine, the attractive young white man who plays a fictional gay man from the Midwest who comes to New York City after being kicked out by his parents and becomes involved in the riots. “While the 59-year-old Emmerich’s crowd scenes are racially diverse, the bulk of the trailer’s footage lingers on his white star’s comely features,” The Hollywood Reporter notes. The response has included angry tweets and an online petition against the film that has received more than 12,000 signatures so far.
Emmerich replied to the critics today with a Facebook post. “When I first learned about the Stonewall Riots through my work with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, I was struck that the circumstances that lead to LGBT youth homelessness today are pretty much the same as they were 45 years ago,” wrote the filmmaker, who is gay. “The courageous actions of everyone who fought against injustice in 1969 inspired me to tell a compelling, fictionalized drama of those days centering on homeless LGBT youth, specifically a young midwestern gay man who is kicked out of his home for his sexuality and comes to New York, befriending the people who are actively involved in the events leading up to the riots and the riots themselves.
“I understand that following the release of our trailer there have been initial concerns about how this character’s involvement is portrayed, but when this film — which is truly a labor of love for me — finally comes to theaters, audiences will see that it deeply honors the real-life activists who were there — including Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Ray Castro — and all the brave people who sparked the civil rights movement which continues to this day. We are all the same in our struggle for acceptance.”
Stonewall opens in theaters September 25.