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LGBTQIA People Had a Celebratory, Bittersweet Night at the Emmys

LGBTQIA People Had a Celebratory, Bittersweet Night at the Emmys

Lena Waithe
Jordan Strauss/AP

Alongside major wins for queer women of color, there was one shocking defeat we can't ignore.

Half a year after Moonlight proved that stories about queer people of color are worthy of celebration and praise at the Oscars, the celebration continued at last night's Emmys. Between a shower of awards for Big Little Lies and The Handmaid's Tale, something phenomenal happened: queer women of color won big.

When the award for comedy writing was presented, Lena Waithe was announced as the winner alongside Aziz Ansari for the Master of None "Thanksgiving" episode that tells the story of Waithe's own coming out. As the first Black woman to take home an Emmy for comedy writing, she made history.

Related | Lena Waithe on Coming Out & Writing Master of None's Best Episode Yet

In her viral speech, Waithe took a moment to address the LGBTQIA community, saying: "I see each and every one of you. The things that make us different... those are our super powers. Every day when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape, go out there and conquer the world because the world would not be as beautiful as it is without us in it." She finished, thanking everyone for embracing a "little Indian kid from South Carolina and a little queer black girl from the south side of Chicago."

The night's celebration of queer women didn't start and end there. Later on, the dystopian anthology show Black Mirror won two separate times for "San Junipero," for Outstanding Made-for-TV Movie and Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special. The episode, a queer, interracial love story between a Black woman and white woman, was a revelation not only for the content but because it finished with a happy ending. At a time when the LGBTQIA community faces unspeakable violence and bigotry, the episode became a respite and celebration of happy, queer love. When accepting the award for the episode, writer Charlie Booker said, "'San Junipero' was a story about love, and love will defeat hatred; love will win."

It was an outstanding step forward for LGBTQIA people, but as with any step forward, the awards show did have one big, high-heeled misstep. In the Best Reality Competition category, RuPaul's Drag Race lost... to The Voice. While it was fun to see Ru do what she does best in a skit where she played the embodiment of the Emmys statue, it was a shocking defeat for a show that has celebrated and elevated the voices of marginalized communities. During such a tumultuous time in our country, seeing a singing competition win over a season of Drag Race that featured Peppermint, the show's first openly transgender contestant, left a bitter aftertaste to what had otherwise been a historic night for queer women of color.

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