Stonewall: where pride began
October 5, 2015
The 1969 Stonewall Riots revolutionized the modern day gay rights movement. After the NYPD raided a popular New York City gay bar on June 26, 1969, members of the LGBT community bound together to overcome the discrimination they faced.
These events are displayed in Roland Emmerich’s production, Stonewall, which premiered September 25th. The film depicts the events of the iconic riots through the eyes of Danny, a white, gay teen, after he flees to New York in search of acceptance.
Portrayed by Jeremy Irvine, Danny finds himself in the company of homeless LGBT youth, many struggling with gender identity. The film showcases the unforgettable moment when the protagonist throws a brick at homophobic police officers raiding a bar that exclusively serves gay customers; this was the start of the gay rights movement.
The scene has sparked an abundance of controversy from gay rights activists, accusing the filmmakers of ‘whitewashing’ (the practice in which a person takes a character who is originally of color in canon work, and replaces them with a white actor). Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender woman, originally sparked the war on oppression. Transgenders receive little to no representation in film or TV; even one of the most important turning points in LGBT history has been hijacked by white cisgender (non transgender) film writers.
“It was a pretty powerful movement and Hollywood is known to alter certain things,” LGBT sophomore Emmanuel Rodriguez said. “So it makes people who were there to experience it or were affected by it very apprehensive about seeing it.”
Young activists decided long before the movie premiered to boycott the film in efforts to spread awareness of what actually occurred during the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Although production cost $17 million, the film made little over $112,000 during its entire opening weekend.
Activists on social media successfully raised awareness for the blatant whitewashing. Their actions show the impact that trans people and people of color have on the American public and how a simple message can be conveyed and spread across the country.