Stonewall star Jeremy Irvine is defending the film against critics who say it minimizes the role played by transgender people and people of color in the 1969 riots that inspired the modern gay rights movement.
Irvine plays a fictional character named Danny, who leaves his home in the Midwest after he is rejected by his parents for being gay, then comes to New York City and plays a key role in the riots. A trailer for the film was released last week, sparking fears that the story would focus on his character at the expense of real-life activists such as Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, both transgender women of color. Some activists have called for a boycott of the film, and an online petition for the boycott has drawn nearly 23,000 signatures to date.
In response, Irvine posted the following text on Instagram (the accompanying image is currently unavailable):
To anyone with concerns about the diversity of the #StonewallMovie. I saw the movie for the first time last week and can assure you all that it represents almost every race and section of society that was so fundamental to one of the most important civil rights movements in living history. Marsha P Johnson is a major part of the movie, and although first hand accounts of who threw the first brick in the riots vary wildly, it is a fictional black transvestite character played by the very talented @vlad_alexis who pulls out the first brick in the riot scenes. My character is adopted by a group of street kids whilst sleeping rough in New York. In my opinion, the story is driven by the leader of this gang played by @jonnybeauchamp who gives an extraordinary performance as a Puerto Rican transvestite struggling to survive on the streets. Jonathan Rhys Meyers' character represents the Mattachine Society, who were at the time a mostly white and middle class gay rights group who stood against violence and radicalism. I felt incredibly nervous taking on this role knowing how important the subject matter is to so many people but Roland Emmerich is one of the most sensitive and heartfelt directors I've worked with and I hope that, as an ensemble, we have not only done such an important story justice but also made a good movie as well. Jeremy
Director Roland Emmerich has also defended his film, saying last week on Facebook, “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.”
Stonewall comes to theaters September 25.