Gay Boycotters Show Intolerance After Seeing Stonewall Trailer

Anyone else confused?

Early on the morning of June 28, 1969, police raided Stonewall Inn, a well-known gay club in Manhattan, New York. In and of itself, this was nothing new; the police had been conducting raids there every few weeks for months on end. But on this hot summer night, the gay community there had finally reached their limit of police harassment. A riot broke out in the streets that morning, primarily concentrated on Christopher Street. The rioting continued for five days, immediately resulting in numerous injuries to protesters and police and millions of dollars in property damage within the community. However, the long-term message was clear: homosexuals and transgender people have the same rights as any other minority group in America and should be free of harassment and suppression. Every year since, the gay community commemorates this seminal moment of social upheaval with a Gay Pride parade as a way to force their community to recognize their continued struggle for recognition. Disaster-porn director Roland Emmerich, himself openly gay, spent years attempting to make a film about this important gay civil rights event. Of course, self-hating Hollywood resisted the gay-themed film until the subject came in vogue (but that could be a book unto itself) and gave Emmerich the greenlight to make his passion project. Now that film is finally set to debut on September 25, 2015. Here's the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/embed/kNXkJMXPBGc As a film, it looks like a pretty standard biopic. We have the Luke Skywalker "journey of an innocent hero" theme in the form of main character "Danny," a white homosexual kid from the Midwest who travels to New York to pursue his interests. We also have a glossy, Selma-like tone of noble unrest. President Obama and spiritual hip-hop color the background noise. It looks well-made, but also quite by-the-numbers, as if Emmerich pushed a button labeled "Oscar-winning biopic" on a huge supercomputer beneath the hills of Hollywood and Stonewall popped out. But that's just my opinion based on what I've seen so far. Sadly, based on this 2:22 minute trailer, the gay community has formed a boycott that has already gathered more than 20,000 signatures. Why? Because they feel like the film doesn't contain enough ethnic diversity. They're outraged that the film's central figure is a white male, and that very few people of color show up in any of the fleeting scenes glimpsed in this trailer. For a minority constantly asking for understanding and tolerance, this seems like a particularly close-minded and intolerant attitude. I realize that the community of Greenwich in Manhattan was an ethnically-diverse crowd, and even the gay community of that time there was divided in certain racially-charged ways. However, even a cursory glimpse at the photos taken during the riots shows mostly-white groups of protesters...

The trailer seems to reflect this reality in scenes set around the Stonewall Inn; the crowd is largely white, although we do see glimpses of black and Latino characters as well. In fact, the hero's new best friend Ray (played with a star-making panache by Jonny Beauchamp) appears to be a cross-dressing character of mixed ethnicity. Keep in mind, these are second-long glimpses in a two-minute trailer for an unseen film. I find it sad and dispiriting that the gay community decided to boycott a film of this caliber and intention simply based on preconceived and assumed injustices. Where were the protests for films like The Birdcage, a film that presents safe gay stereotypes for the amusement of Middle America? And the offensive stereotypes in The Rocky Horror Picture Show hasn't ever seemed to keep gay audiences away after forty years, either. All of this pre-release hand-wringing reminds me of the propped-up outrage that preceded the release of Basic Instinct based on the supposed anti-gay stance of the film because the film's presumed killer was bisexual. Of course, all of that indignant complaining became moot the moment Sharon Stone uncrossed her legs. And that really is the point: a film fails or succeeds based on the quality of its storytelling. Gay-themed films like Basic Instinct, Brokeback Mountain, or Milk succeed (in varying ways, of course) because of the quality of the production and the performances of the actors. They use craft to overcome audience skittishness or minority reservations. Think about The Dallas Buyer's Club for a moment: most of that film was quite fictitious, but the filmmakers got the essence of the story emotionally correct. All Emmerich needs to do is get the essence of the Stonewall riots correct, and he's attempting to do that by hitching it to a hero's journey that white, middle-class, heterosexual American can handle. In the meantime, the gay community needs to realize that, if they want respect and tolerance, they need to show respect and tolerance to others. Emmerich is attempting to bring an important civil rights story to the big screen in a way that can help others relate to the struggle. He has had to overcome the homophobia in Hollywood in order to finally get it made. Let's not judge him and his film until we can actually see it for ourselves, and let's judge it based on the quality of the work, not head-counting. There isn't much of a difference between judging a film based on a few fleeting glimpses, and judging an entire community based on a few known stereotypes. Let's try to remember that before we take our overheated, internet-fueled outrage to the streets.

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All you need to know is that I love movies and baseball. I write about both on a temporary medium known as the Internet. Twitter: @rayderousse or @unfilteredlens1 Go St. Louis Cardinals! www.stlcardinalbaseball.com