Jeremy Irvine responds to claims of ‘whitewashing’ in Stonewall film
One of the stars of the upcoming Stonewall film, Jeremy Irvine, released a statement on Instagram responding to claims of whitewashing and trans-erasure in his new movie.
The drama will focus on the story of homeless Danny Winters – a young gay man caught up in the riots – who experiences a political awakening after making his way to New York, where “with the toss of a single brick, a riot ensues and a crusade for equality is born”.
However many have signed a petition against the film, claiming that veterans of the riots like Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera have been airbrushed out of the centre of the story in favour of a fictional gay man.
Jeremy Irvine, who portrays the role of Danny Winters, released a statement on Instagram following the allegations.
His statement reads: “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.” the actor continued.”
“My character is adopted by a group of street kids whilst sleeping rough in New York. In my opinion, the story is driven by the leader of this gang played by @jonnybeauchamp who gives an extraordinary performance as a Puerto Rican transvestite struggling to survive on the streets.”
The War Horse star also noted on how the film represents precursory LGBT rights movements such as the Mattachine Society, which was dominated by white gay activists.
He continued: “Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ character represents the Mattachine Society, who were at the time a mostly white and middle class gay rights group who stood against violence and radicalism.
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“I felt incredibly nervous taking on this role knowing how important the subject matter is to so many people but Roland Emmerich is one of the most sensitive and heartfelt directors I’ve worked with and I hope that, as an ensemble, we have not only done such an important story justice but also made a good movie as well.”
The film’s director, Roland Emmerich, also released a statement on social media addressing the boycott.
He said: “When I first learned about the Stonewall Riots through my work with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, I was struck that the circumstances that lead to LGBT youth homelessness today are pretty much the same as they were 45 years ago.
“The courageous actions of everyone who fought against injustice in 1969 inspired me to tell a compelling, fictionalized drama of those days centering on homeless LGBT youth, specifically a young midwestern gay man who is kicked out of his home for his sexuality and comes to New York, befriending the people who are actively involved in the events leading up to the riots and the riots themselves.”
He continued: “I understand that following the release of our trailer there have been initial concerns about how this character’s involvement is portrayed, but when this film – which is truly a labour of love for me – finally comes to theaters, audiences will see that it deeply honors the real-life activists who were there — including Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Ray Castro — and all the brave people who sparked the civil rights movement which continues to this day.
“We are all the same in our struggle for acceptance.”