Stonewall director: Film needed a ‘straight-acting’ hero to attract straight audiences

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The director of Stonewall has said he based his film around a “straight-acting” gay man so the film didn’t put off straight audiences.

The upcoming film by Roland Emmerich is based on the 1969 Stonewall riots, which are often considered the birthplace of the gay rights movement.

Prior to release, the film came under fire amid claims of whitewashing and trans-erasure, after the first trailer suggested it would be centred on a white middle-class gay hero.

Later clips have focussed on historical queer figures, such as black drag activist Marsha P Johnson, but Emmerich has spoken out to defend the film.

He told Buzzfeed: “You have to understand one thing: I didn’t make this movie only for gay people, I made it also for straight people.

“I kind of found out, in the testing process, that actually, for straight people, [Danny] is a very easy in.

“Danny’s very straight-acting. He gets mistreated because of that. [Straight audiences] can feel for him.”

He also added that the film is ‘personal’ to him, adding:  “As a director you have to put yourself in your movies, and I’m white and gay.”

However, he adds of the protagonist: “Danny is like the catalyst. [The street hustlers] teach him about survival. Through him, we experience them.”

The film’s star Jeremy Irvine said previously: “To anyone with concerns about the diversity of the #StonewallMovie. I saw the movie for the first time last week and can assure you all that it represents almost every race and section of society that was so fundamental to one of the most important civil rights movements in living history.

“Marsha P Johnson is a major part of the movie, and although first hand accounts of who threw the first brick in the riots vary wildly, it is a fictional black transvestite character played by the very talented @vlad_alexis who pulls out the first brick in the riot scenes.”