Larry Kramer has some words of advice for Roland Emmerich. The author and HIV activist posted on Facebook in response to criticism of the gay filmmaker's Stonewall trailer.
Critics who are calling for a boycott of the film say the newly released trailer erases the role of transgender people as well as people of color in the 1969 riots that gave rise to the modern LGBT rights movement.
Kramer, whose own 1985 play on the AIDS crisis, The Normal Heart, was adapted into an HBO film last year, advised Emmerich to ignore such criticism, thanked him for his contribution to film and the LGBT community, and warned of the dangers such a boycott might yield:
"Don't listen to the crazies. for some reason there is a group of 'activists' that insists on maintaining their prime importance and participation during this riot. unfortunately there seems no one left alive to say 'it wasnt that way at all,' or 'who are or where the fuck were you.' as with so much history there is no way to 'prove' a lot of stuff, which allows artists such as yourself (and me I might add) to take essences and attempt to find and convey meaning and truth. i sincerely hope this boycott your film shit peters out. we are not dealing with another 'Cruising' here. keeping your film from being seen is only hurting ourselves. good luck and thank you for your passion."
The 80-year-old Kramer is no stranger to controversy. His book Faggots, on the sex lives of gay men in New York, produced a firestorm on its 1978 release. A cofounder of Gay Men's Health Crisis, he was ousted from the organization in 1983 for his vocal and incendiary activism, which includes his continued insistence that the HIV and AIDS crisis is a genocide inflicted on minority groups.
To date, a petition calling for a boycott of Stonewall has garnered over 21,000 signatures.
Kramer published his Facebook response on a thread begun by Peter Staley, a fellow veteran HIV activist. Staley had reposted the following response from Emmerich, who spoke out last Thursday on the controversy:
"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.
"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 labor 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."