Roland Emmerich: “Stonewall Was A White Event, Let’s Be Honest”

The out director also boasts that he's added a gay couple to "Independence Day: Resurgence."

Roland Emmerich is still licking his wounds from Stonewall, his 2015 drama recounting the Stonewall riots of 1969 that sparked the LGBT rights movement.

Upon its release last year, critics and activists derided the film for focusing on a cute white kid and relegating trans characters and people of color to secondary roles.


Emmerich, who is readying to release the next Independence Day this week, thinks the criticism was unfair.


“My movie was exactly what they said it wasn’t. It was politically correct. It had black, transgender people in there,” he tells the Guardian. “We just got killed by one voice on the internet who saw a trailer and said, ’this is whitewashing Stonewall.’

He thinks he got the riots pretty right.

“Stonewall was a white event, let’s be honest,” says Emmerich. “But nobody wanted to hear that any more.”

Martha P. Johnson might disagree with that.

An unidentifed group of young poeple celebrate outside the boarded-up Stonewall Inn (53 Christopher Street) after riots over the weekend of June 27, 1969. The bar and surrounding area were the site of a series of demonstrations and riots that led to the formation of the modern gay rights movement in the United States. (Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images)
Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images

Maybe there was no dramatization of the riots that would have pleased everyone. Or maybe the guy best known for blowing up the Eiffel Tower wasn’t the one to direct it.

Emmerich continues to try, in his way, to advance the cause. He’s even put a gay couple in Independence Day: Resurgence. (Hopefully they have a better time of it than Harvey Fierstein in the 1996 original.)

Roland Emmerich

“You start small and then you get bigger and bigger and bigger, and one day you have a gay character as the lead and nobody will wonder at it no more,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.

“But we’re not there yet.”

He says studios still won’t allow a gay lead in a $150 million movie. “But when you have five characters, they allow [one of them to be gay] because they’re super-smart, you know?

Sadly, we do.

Independence Day: Resurgence hits theaters Thursday, June 23.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.