(WB) The 75th anniversary Golden Globes featured Hollywood actors donning all-black gowns and suits, and wearing #TimesUp pins in support in of those who have spoken out about sexual harassment and to protest gender inequality. It was a hugely important night celebrating women and women’s stories.
But many in the LGBTQ community were left puzzled by the lack of representation among the acting, directing and screenwriting category nominees and winners, even though #TimesUp resonates against homophobia too.
While “Handmaid’s Tale” and “Lady Bird” (both LGBTQ-themed projects) picked up awards, and there was a big win for Benji Pasek for Best Original Song, with “This Is Me” in “The Greatest Showman,” the night was entirely bereft of awards for LGBT roles, themed films or out actors.
D.C.-based film critic and the founder of Cinema Siren, Leslie Combemale says the omission of out lesbian, gay and trans actors among the nominations is not unlike the traditional silencing of women in the industry that led to the current crisis.
“It’s just a group of underrepresented people in the entertainment world that Hollywood doesn’t believe is capable of performing on that level… which is crazy,” Combemale told the Los Angeles Blade.
“Look at the film, ‘Fantastic Woman,’” she says. “Here’s an example of a great transgender actor [Daniela Vega] with an amazing performance who wasn’t even nominated.”
Combemale went on to step to tread delicate waters, pointing out that many in Hollywood have remained closeted and that they are at fault here.
“Until more gay roles become available to openly gay actors, then that’s going to continue to be part of the problem — people not feeling confident about being their true selves in that environment,” she says.
John Paul King, Los Angeles Blade film critic says, “There were a lot of excellent and diverse films nominated this year, and of course all the winners deserved to take home their prizes. And I think the fact that both Best Picture winners were very muchdriven by a female perspective – even though “Three Billboards” was written and directed by a man – was very telling.”
Beyond LGBT issues, it was not an entirely challenged event on the diversity front, however.
In a historic moment, actor Sterling K. Brown, star of the TV series “This is Us,” won for Best Lead Actor in a TV Drama. He was the first Black actor to win in this category. Last year, he won Best Supporting Actor in a TV Drama for his role in “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”
But it was Oprah Winfrey’s speech that was the highlight of the evening. The media mogul, actress, and producer, was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille award. She is the first black woman to win.
Doing what she does best — inspiring and empowering — Winfrey talked about her own inspiration remembering when Sydney Poitier become the first Black man to win an Oscar in 1964 for “Lilies of the Field.” And what it meant to her as a little girl.
“Up on the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen,” she recalled. “I had never seen a black man recognized like that before. What a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats, as my mom came through the door, bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses,” Oprah said in her acceptance speech.
“There are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this award,” she went on.
Winfrey recalled the story of Recy Taylor, a black woman whose 1944 rape by six white men did not lead to any convictions. Taylor passed away last month at the age of 97.
“She lived — as we all have lived — in a culture broken by brutally powerful men,” Winfrey said. “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men, but their time is up.”
But Oprah brought Hollywood to its feet when she talked about the future of women in a world without discrimination and harassment. She gave a full-throated clarion call for change that could resonate beyond Hollywood.
“I want all of the girls watching here now to know, that a new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘me too’ again.”
There were several straight actors nominated for playing gay roles, but none took home the gold.
Armie Hammer, Actor in a Supporting Role, for “Call Me by Your Name,” [Sam Rockwell won for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”] and Timothée Chalamet, Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama, also for “Call Me by Your Name” [Gary Oldman, won for “Darkest Hour”]. Emma Stone, Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy, for her role as Billie Jean King in “Battle of the Sexes,” [Saoirse Ronan, won for “Lady Bird”]. In television, Eric McCormack nabbed a nomination for his role as Will in NBC’s revived “Will & Grace,” [Aziz Ansari “Master of None”].
“When someone who’s gay comes out as gay, everyone’s like ‘oh my God, I can’t believe it.’ But, when a straight actor plays gay, everyone says, ‘oh, he or she is so brave.’ That’s ridiculous. It does piss me off. Just like when a Jewish character is played by a Greek,” standup comedian, actress, Emmy award winning television writer, and producer Judy Gold told the Los Angeles Blade.
Combemale says the Globes missed the boat on a quiet a few films with LGBTQ actors and creative.
She says “Mudbound,” Dee Reese, the director and half of the screenwriting team, who is Black and a lesbian. “She’s a star. Eventually it will happen. It’s a great movie and that’s a big miss,” Combemale says.
Also, she cites writer-Director Angela Robinson for “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” who seemed to disappear from the radar.
“And ‘BPM (beats per minute)’ a French film was a huge miss. Internationally, it might be that gay and lesbian actors are playing gay characters and not in the U.S.,” she says.
Combemale says she believes there were several options for lesbian actresses who could have played the Billie Jean Smith role in “Battle of the Sexes,” outside of Emma Smith. “I don’t believe the movie wouldn’t have gotten films without her.”
Although “Call Me by Your Name” was nominated for Best Motion Picture Drama, it has a gay director, Luca Guadagnino, and screenwriter James Ivory, neither of whom were nominated. Many were rooting for the film as it has several queer producers, including Guadagnino and Ivory, who would take home gold if the film won. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” won the award.
“It’s important for the LGBTQ community to continue to speak up, especially in the current cultural and political climate, about being included. That doesn’t mean we’re less than one-hundred percent supportive of the women’s movement, but we must make sure our voices are heard, too,” says Los Angeles Blade’s King. “Movies are a big part of how people’s attitudes change, and when Hollywood send the message that we matter, too, it’s a huge step forward in our struggle to be recognized as equal’”
We can only hope that the new culture Oprah says has been ushered in will be one in which gay and lesbian actors can be considered for gay or lesbian roles and where there is no penalty for being out.
Times up for all that, too.
For the complete list of winners go here.
— Rebekah Sager, Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.