The Stonewall riots are generally thought to be the inciting incident of the gay rights movement. If you’re unfamiliar, on June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn of Greenwich Village. These raids on gay bars were nothing new. In the late 60s, New York had the largest gay population in the US, but it also had strict anti-gay laws that were actively and aggressively upheld. By the mid-60s, over 100 men a week were arrested on presumption of homosexuality. Stonewall, a mafia-run dive bar that didn’t even have running water or a liquor license, but openly welcomed gay patrons, had been raided before, and the raids usually ended in relatively peaceful arrests. But on this day, the Stonewall patrons resisted arrest and things quickly got out of control. Police were forced to barricade themselves inside the bar after a crowd gathered on the street outside, and officers in riot gear were sent in. The attack on the bar erupted into a week of violent protests, and on the one year anniversary, on June 28, 1970, the first gay pride marches were held in cities across the United States. It’s an incredibly important event in the history of gay rights.
Now how much of that story do you think we’re actually going to get in Roland Emmerich’s upcoming movie, Stonewall? From the looks of the trailer… probably not much. This, of course, if the man who brought us Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012. And you can really tell. From the heavy-handed tagline (“Where Pride Began”) to the overly-manufactured bright, flashy, big-budget version of “grittiness,” this has all the nuance you’d expect from the man who brought us The Patriot.
Will you be manipulated into shedding a few tears? Probably. Will this get the Oscar nomination it’s clearly baiting? Maybe, because this world is a terrible, unfair place. But will it do justice to the story it’s telling? I can’t possibly imagine so.