Roland Emmerich, best known for action-adventure hits such as “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “10,000 B.C.,” says he has long wanted to make a film about the gay community.
“I came out very late in life, but that was more for business reasons,” Emmerich says. “I was afraid that I would get put in a drawer, and people would say, ‘He’s gay; he makes gay movies.’ I wanted to make Spielberg movies and Lucas movies.”
The German native explains that his involvement as a supporter of the Los Angeles LGBT Center inspired him to produce and direct “Stonewall,” his upcoming film about the historic 1969 gay rights riots in New York. Emmerich, who will be honored March 21 with GLAAD’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award, presented annually to an openly LGBT media professional who has worked to promote equality, was shocked to learn that roughly 40% of homeless youth are LGBT. “With the Internet, kids come out younger and maybe come out more than the old days,” he says. “(But) this number has never really changed through the years.”
Emmerich feels it’s time for a film about the gay experience that doesn’t dwell on the negative. “I realized that in my movie, nobody dies. ‘Brokeback Mountain’? One of them dies. ‘Milk’? He dies. ‘Philadelphia’? Tom Hanks dies. It’s a lot about death. (But ‘Stonewall’) has a happy ending, because the riot was the starting point of gay liberation. And a year later, the Stonewall riot was commemorated with the first gay pride march, which now every big city in the world has.”
The more Hollywood continues to embrace the LGBT community, the better, Emmerich says, but better still when the content is realistic and original. “There’s a greater need to avoid cliches and subvert stereotypes,” he notes. “It has to happen that way, because TV and films have a huge influence on young people.”