Another year, another dearth of out performers nominated for Academy Awards.
We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, 2021 marks only the second time more than one Black performer is nominated for Best Actress in the same year. And Steven Yeun and Riz Ahmed made history this morning as the first two men of Asian heritage to be nominated for Best Actor at the same time. In 93 years. They’re also the third and fourth men of Asian heritage ever to be nominated in that category.
Still, the lack of LGBTQ+ representation remains galling, particularly given the increasingly loud conversations around who plays queer characters when films deign to include them. The Boys in the Band was a glittering look at toxicity, friendship, and life as a mid-century gay man cast entirely with out performers—no noms. But perennial loser Glenn Close became the third performer in history to earn both an Oscar and a Razzie nomination for the same performance. And Viola Davis became the most nominated Black female actor in Oscars history with her performance as the queer Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Oscars gonna Oscar, after all.
Davis joins a long list of straight, cis performers who score nods for playing gay. In fact, only two out performers have ever been nominated for an Academy Award for playing queer characters: Sir Ian McKellen for Gods and Monsters and Jaye Davidson for his performance as a trans woman in The Crying Game.
Compare that to the list of straight winners who took home the gold for a queer character in just the last decade. Jared Leto. Sean Penn. Christopher Plummer. Rami Malek. Olivia Colman.
And of course, only Plummer’s character in Beginners wasn’t tragic—though one could argue that only feeling comfortable enough to come out of the closet in one’s final years is a tragedy of sorts.
So congratulations to the nominees, and to a particularly satisfyingly diverse roster this year. And here’s to not shutting up until some actual out performers are given the opportunities to score nominations themselves.
All the more reason to not stop until we get the Montgomery Clift biopic starring Matt Bomer that we deserve!