After the announcement that none of the Oscar nominated Actors and Actresses were people of color, the internet was a buzz with the hashtag, #oscarsowhite. Very important conversations were had about the problems with the representation of race in Hollywood. And although these conversations were impactful and absolutely necessary, the Academy Award’s diversity issues go far beyond just race. The LGBTQIA+ community is largely underrepresented at the Oscars.
Now you may think thats not true. Just this year The Danish Girl, a film about the first known Trans Person to undergo gender reassignment surgery, was nominated for four Academy Awards, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett were both nominated for their roles in Carol, a film which explores a relationship between two women in the 1950’s. However although more films surrounding LGBTQIA+ issues are being nominated, actual people who are LGBTQIA+ are not. There has actually been only two openly queer people who have won an Academy Award: Angelina Jolie and Linda Hunt. No trans people have won an Oscar. And yet there have been 10 straight cis actors who have played LGBTQIA+ characters and have won awards. Straight actors are often called “brave” for taking on queer roles, while it is expected that queer actors to play straight characters, and are not rewarded for acting outside of their “comfort zone”. Additionally all the trans characters who have been nominated for an Oscar, where played by Cis actors. Trans Actors are not given many roles in Hollywood, and when they are given roles it almost always surrounds the character being Trans. When Cis actors take Trans roles, they are essentially taking away some of the only roles Trans actors can currently have in Hollywood, and then are rewarded for it.
Now not only have 10 straight actors won Oscars for playing LGBTQ+ characters, but every single one of those characters died in the film. Yes thats right, they all died. They also more the most part live tragic lives, from Tom Hanks dying from AIDS in Philidelphia, to Sean Penn being assignaited in Milk, and Hillary Swank’s character being murdered in Boys Don’t Cry. Now, these are all important stories to be told, but it does raise the question, are LGBTQIA+ stories only important when they end in tragedy? Are stories of happy and content LGBTQIA+ characters no worthy of awards ?
The Academy Awards have a long way to come in order to become fully diverse and inclusive. It is important that people keep this conversation going, and don’t forget about until the nominees for next year are announced and we are left disappointed yet again.