With the release of the trailer for the movie Stonewall there has been much disappointment and discussion over the lack of representation of diversity within the characters. This mainly focuses on the lack of people of color and lack of transgender people within the trailer.
Back in the day, we used to complain about not having any representation at all. We were never on screen overtly as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender folks. When we were on screen covertly it was as a fop, a joke, something to be laughed at or a wackadoodle, the mentally unstable person or killer who was that way just because they were gay. Any real representation of our community came from small, independent, shoe string budget productions and directors, not from someone who created such blockbusters as Independence Day. Back in the day, those kinds of directors would not have touched a story like Stonewall’s with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole. Telling a story about the gay community that is rooted in reality, history and the desire for gay people just to be treated as human beings would have been a career killer for folks of Roland Emmerich‘s stature.
When you think back on the last major mainstream movies that told our story in a way that was a better representation of who we are you have Philadelphia (1993) and Brokeback Mountain (2005); both of which had the gay main character dying at the end.
Are we better represented now then we were then? Yes, which is why I welcome something like Stonewall. Are we as accurately represented as we could and should be? No. But the fact that we are arguing over the representation of the rainbow within the rainbow is a much better debate to have then when we were just yearning for any representation at all. I welcome the diversity within diversity debate as much as I welcome the film because the fact that we are having that kind of conversation about who we are as a community is another big reason why it gets better.