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Roland Emmerich: ‘Stonewall was a white event’

By Will Stroude

Roland Emmerich’s LGBT rights drama Stonewall became one of the biggest commercial flops of 2015, in part after being dogged by claims that the film had ‘whitewashed’ the infamous New York riots of 1969, which led to the birth of modern gay rights movement.

Emmerich himself was heavily criticised for sidelining real historical figures from ethnic minority backgrounds, in favour of a fictional, handsome white protagonist, (played by Jeremy Irvine). Photographs and reports show that the background of those involved in the riots was in equal parts black, latinx and white – and included many transgender activists.

The director was later slammed after saying he said he made the character of Danny “straight-acting’ so he’d be more easily relatable for heterosexual audiences, and adding that he teaches other queer characters in the film that they can have a “regular life”.

But despite the controversy, it seems Emmerich isn’t ready to back down, claiming that Stonewall was actually a “white event”, and that the criticism of the film’s representation of trans and BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) queer people was unfair.

“My movie was exactly what they said it wasn’t. It was politically correct. It had black, transgender people in there,” the 60-year-old told the Guardian.

“We just got killed by one voice on the internet who saw a trailer and said, this is whitewashing Stonewall.

“Stonewall was a white event, let’s be honest. But nobody wanted to hear that any more.”

Perhaps it’s time to let this one go, Ro…

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