High School senior Danny Winters (Jeremy Irvine) is about to graduate and move from his small town in Indiana to New York City in order to attend Columbia University where he’s been admitted on a scholarship. Danny is also in a secret relationship with the school’s quarterback and when they get busted during one of their clandestine car encounters, Danny’s life is ruined. His intolerant father, who also happens to be the coach of the school’s football team, warns Danny that this shameful episode has to remain a one-time thing. Yet, despite being ostracised by everyone, including his lover, Danny has no intention of denying who he really is.
With his mother being submissive to his father’s decisions, Danny only has his younger sister Phoebe to support him and although it hurts to leave her behind, he sees no option but running away. He reaches New York earlier than he was planning to, hoping for the Greenwich Village to be the gay-friendly place he’s heard about but he promptly impacts with a different reality than he was expecting. Sure, there are people who don’t shy away from being their true selves but at what cost? Being gay was illegal at the time and the kids Danny meets on the street are homeless misfits like him who survive by hustling, stealing food and living in squalor. Yet, in such hard times Danny finds community when Ray (Johnny Beauchamp), the “spiritual leader” of one of these street groups, takes him under his wing. As he tries to adjust to the hardships of his new life, Danny doesn’t lose sight of his goals. However, having left home before graduating and with his father refusing to sign off the scholarship papers, he has to enrol for night classes to get the final credits for his high school diploma whilst working at a grocery store.
One night at the Stonewall gay bar, Danny meets Trevor, (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a good-looking, confident and older gay rights activist who awakens Danny’s political spirit but also lures him in a kind of relationship the young man is not ready for. With the Stonewall being constantly under police raid for its clientele (it was illegal to sell alcohol to gay people) but also in order to bust the mobster bar owner, Danny will find himself caught up in the Stonewall riots, an event that will change his life and history forever.
“Not the most imaginative or politically trenchant retelling, but entertaining and at times quite moving.”
— David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
“There is a lot of sexuality in this movie – a LOT – and the sex scenes are handled pretty much the same way you would see heterosexual sex scenes in a mainstream movie; kudos to Emmerich for treating the two equally.”
Did You Know?
Before Stonewall was even released, its first trailer provoked a huge controversy as many criticised the film for seemingly whitewashing a story that actually had minorities participating front and centre to the event – and not just people of colour but also transgenders, drag queens and butch lesbians. Having a fictionalised white protagonist that ticked all the boxes of masculine, athletic pretty boy was also seen as a stereotypical and reductive choice to represent something with a universal spirit like that particular event. Director Roland Emmerich has defended the film, claiming that he and the other filmmakers were actually inclusive of all the different facets of what it means to be gay. After the film flopped in cinemas he also commented that the controversy exploded before the release had hurt the film’s box office chances and that Stonewall was indeed a white event but nobody wanted to hear that anymore. Review our Gay Themed Films Here