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marsha p johnson
Marsha P. Johnson

Stonewall releases new clip focussing on black drag activist

The film has been accused of ‘whitewashing’ and erasing history – is this trailer a bid to put those charges to bed?

Roland Emmerich’s upcoming film Stonewall has had a rocky entry into the world. It tells the story of the Stonewall protests in New York, 1969, a movement allegedly sparked and led by black trans drag queen Marsha P. Johnson. However, the first trailer for Stonewall focusses on a fictional, white character called Danny Winters, played by Jeremy Irvine.

In the trailer, Winters throws the first brick at police, but many eyewitness accounts maintain that it was Johnson who made the first move. The sight of a white guy seemingly having taken her place in the movie upset many who believe the clip to be an erasure of Johnson’s story and an example of "whitewashing".

Now, another trailer for the film has been released and Marsha P. Johnson, played by Otoja Abit, features prominently. In the face of a petition asking people to boycott the film, Emmerich has always maintained that the film will do the truth justice.

"When this film – which is truly a labour of love for me – finally comes to theatres, audiences will see that it deeply honours the real-life activists who were there and all the brave people who sparked the civil rights movement. We are all the same in our struggle for acceptance."

The trailer seems like a reaction to criticism and a bid to quash accusations that Stonewall – out in September is toying with history. Watch the new clip below.