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Will new film Stonewall be another example of whitewashing?

LGBT history is painted over with a brush – why was a white guy chosen instead of a trans WOC?

A lot rides on Roland Emmerich’s upcoming film Stonewall – not least because this story is rarely accurately told in the mainstream (Nigel Finch’s 1995 adaptation of the same name “swivels glitteringly to life!” according to the poster’s camp strapline). So it’s to the dismay of many that the newly-released trailer zeroes in on a cisgender white male.

To quickly recap, the Stonewall Riots were a series of protests in 1969 against the police by the LGBT community in New York after a police raid in Greenwich’s Stonewall Inn sparked a violent backlash. Stonewall is now referred to as the single-most significant event in the history of LGBT liberation.

Though the film is billed as a “true story”, it appears to be told from the POV of fictionalized Danny Winters (up-and-comer Jeremy Irvine), a home-brewed townie who is kicked out of his home and flees to NYC to find acceptance. In reality, Stonewall was kickstarted by black trans drag queen Marsha P. Johnson, who tossed the first brick. The trailer appears to change that narrative, as Danny slings the first stone which triggers the riot.

Sure, Marsha P. Johnson is listed in the film’s credits on IMDb, but other key figures of the movement (Miss Major, trans WOC Sylvia Rivera) are nowhere to be found. A petition to boycott the release of Stonewall has already received over 5,800 signatures. Not to mention, there are other independent films that will attempt to get the story straight. Happy Birthday, Marsha! is currently in post-production, and centres on Johnson in the lead-up to the riots, but it won’t have the same marketing push as a film from the guy who brought you Independence Day.

Will Stonewall be another case of rewriting history to accommodate a cisgender white narrative? Watch the trailer below and let us know what you think.