Pop Goes The News — It hasn’t even been screened, but already Stonewall is being slammed by LGBT activists who are calling for a boycott.
The movie, directed by Roland Emmerich last summer in Montreal, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before opening in cinemas on Sept. 25.
Written by playwright Jon Robin Baitz, Stonewall is set in the months leading up to the 1969 riots outside the titular New York City bar.
Although based on actual events, the movie tells the fictional story of a young gay man (Jeremy Irvine) who moves to New York and becomes immersed in the community that eventually clashes with police.
At Planet Transgender, Amy Walker called Stonewall “a whitewashing, tranphobic piece of cinema that wants to crap on an important historical moment.”
Walker, and others calling for a boycott of the film, have formed opinions based solely on a two-and-a-half-minute preview.
“The trailer, claiming to be a ‘true story’, tells the audience that a young, white, cisgender, gay man was the first to throw a brick and start the Stonewall Riots,” Walker wrote. (In fact, the trailer indicates the movie is “inspired” by a true story.)
“In truth … the riots were started by black drag queens and transgender women.”
Walker added: “You’re watching a lie.”
Baitz complained on Facebook that the movie is being “decried by many who have not or will not see it based on a trailer (sigh).”
The writer said Stonewall is not “the definitive story of a revolution” but a dramatization of how the disenfranchised are empowered by rage.”
On Twitter, opponents are using hashtags “#BoycottStonewallMovie” and “NotOurStonewall.”
An online petition urging people to boycott Stonewall collected nearly 19,000 supporters in its first week.
“Do not support a film that erases our history,” pleads petition organizer Pat Cordova-Goff.
On Thursday, Emmerich addressed the criticism in a message on Facebook.
“I understand that following the release of our trailer there have been initial concerns about how this character’s involvement is portrayed,” he wrote, “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.”
Irvine also commented on Facebook, insisting the movie “represents almost every race and section of society that was so fundamental to one of the most important civil rights movements in living history.”
He wrote: “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.”
BELOW: Watch the trailer for Stonewall.