When the first trailer for Stonewall was released, the response was… not great. It basically ranged from “don’t care” to “SET EVERYTHING ON FIRE.” The movie, which is about the cultural upheaval, political oppression, and police brutality of the gay, trans, and otherwise “deviant” community that led to the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969. The trailer, however looked like The Patriot crossed with a Hallmark Channel movie about making gay friends.
Now a new clip, along with some cast and creator interviews, has been released, and it’s hard not to see it as a strategic move in response to the criticisms railed against the initial trailer. Because not only did that trailer look beyond cheesy, it also looked to whitewash an entire movement. Making a movie about the Stonewall Inn centered around a white cis gay man would be like making Straight Out of Compton about a white kid from Orange County who happened to really like rap. Yes, that movement affected the entire LGBT community, but the riots were sparked by black drag queens and transgender women. This new clip, and the interviews, are focused on Jonny Beauchamp, who plays a character billed as Ray/Ramona. Ramona is a composite of a number of real people, and seems to not be trans, since they refer to him by male pronouns, but is maybe a drag queen or possibly more gender fluid. So this is a step in the right direction, right? At least acknowledging that there were people involved in an important way who DIDN’T look like Emile Hirsch. Still, those characters seem to be relegated to the sidelines in supporting roles. While I understand wanting to appeal to as wide a blockbustery audience as possible, haven’t we proven that a movie doesn’t HAVE to star a white man in order to make that happen?