Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall caused controversy amongst some quarters of the LGBT community when a white man was chosen for the lead role instead of a trans woman of colour, a choice that many believe would have been truer to history. Out with Marsha P. Johnson, the black trans queen who threw the first rock in the Stonewall riots, and in with the fictionalised white Danny Winters, a townie who flees to NYC seeking acceptance.
It’d be no surprise, then, to anyone who has been following the fallout and the film, that during the world premiere of Stonewall at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival (appropriately named, TIFF) LGBT protesters crashed the red carpet. This has only just been revealed by Canada’s LGBT news outlet, Daily Xtra and their film crew, who attended the event on September 18. The protesters made their feelings known with bullhorns and one altercation with an attendant of the festival was filmed by the cameraman.
The reason the Stonewall director cast a “straight-acting” male lead in the role in the first place was to avoid putting off straight cinema audiences. It appears he needn’t have bothered. Boycotted by large swathes of the LGBT community - the petition to avoid the release of Stonewall gathered 24,750 signatures and this protest at the world premiere, while invisible to mainstream media, did happen. According to Indiewire, the film only raked in a meagre $112,414 in its opening weekend. The sitecalculated that based on the $8.12 cost of an average movie ticket, a box office performance as weak as Stonewall’s meansonly 107 people on average went to see the film in each of its theatres.
It seems obvious to suggest, but perhaps in trying to appease the majority, the director has ended up pleasing nobody.