When the trailer for the upcoming movie Stonewall dropped last month, there was a lot of backlash. The Roland Emmerich-directed film is about the famous Stonewall riots—a monumental event in LGBTQ history—that took place on June 28, 1969. The complaint with the film was that the trailer (and movie) stars Jeremy Irvine as its fictional protagonist, Danny. Danny, as you can see, is a white, cisgender male, whereas the group behind these riots was much more diverse, including many trans people of color. In a year where trans visibility in pop culture has been more apparent than ever, Stonewall had so much potential. And yet it seems to do a disservice to the already underrepresented. One Buzzfeed writer wrote, "Stonewall treats trans people like inspirational sidekicks."
Regarding the controversy Buzzfeed sat down with director Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla) to discuss his casting choice and clear the air a bit. "You have to understand one thing: I didn’t make this movie only for gay people, I made it also for straight people," he says. "I kind of found out, in the testing process, that actually, for straight people, [Danny] is a very easy in. Danny’s very straight-acting. He gets mistreated because of that. [Straight audiences] can feel for him." Hmm.
He also said that he was putting himself in the movie: "I'm white and I'm gay," comparing himself to Danny. Still, white men get enough screentime already, and it's a shame that Stonewall couldn't get the other players—people of color, lesbians, trans people, etc.—to star as the film's protagonists. If directors continue to use the "I cast myself in films" excuse, we just keep seeing the same kind of people over and over again... Which is very much the case already.
How do YOU feel about Stonewall and Emmerich's response? Read the rest of the interview.