The first trailer for Stonewall, about the 1969 Stonewall riots largely credited for launching the modern movement for LGBT rights, debuted on Tuesday, and almost immediately, people began taking issue with the film.
The main apprehension that many have with the trailer is that it presents a fictionalized character — a white, cisgender man named Danny, played by Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) — as the movie’s main protagonist.
The trailer depicts Danny moving to New York City, and falling in with a group of LGBT kids who frequent the Stonewall Inn — the namesake of the Stonewall riots that started on June 28, 1969.
However, while what happened that night — in an era before social media — was not precisely recorded, most of the LBGT people on the front lines of the Stonewall riots were people of color, trans people, and lesbians — i.e., not cisgender white gay men.
But in the trailer, it looks as if the person who throws the first brick, and helps to lead the riots, is Danny — whereas trans activist Sylvia Rivera has been credited as one of the first to throw a bottle.
And although LGBT people of color are part of the riots as seen in the trailer, Danny is in the foreground, suggesting he is the most important character.
For many, the trailer raised real concern that a movie depicting one of the defining moments in LGBT history was effectively erasing the people who made it happen.
Director Roland Emmerich and screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz, both out gay men, sympathized with criticism that trans people and people of color central to the Stonewall riots were being pushed aside — and asked for patience until the film’s release.