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Why LGBTQ+ people love the Oscars

Why LGBTQ+ people love the Oscars

Why LGBTQ+ people love the Oscars

Out's editor in chief reflects on the importance of Colman Domingo's Oscar nomination, and why queer representation on Hollywood's biggest night matters.

I’ll never forget my first Oscars — viewing party, that is. I was 13, and my mom and I had dressed up for the ceremony in support of our favorite nominee: Titanic. (Cue, “It’s been 84 years” meme.)

Watching the 70th Academy Awards was a special memory for me. Other than a school dance and a few funerals, I hadn’t had many occasions to wear a suit. It was also the first time I felt invested enough in a movie to root for its success on the Hollywood awards circuit, a world that seemed both as grand and as far away as the fated luxury ocean liner. In their tuxedos and gowns, the actors themselves seemed to have floated straight from first class. Even the Heart of the Ocean necklace was there, worn by “My Heart Will Go On” chanteuse Céline Dion. And when the James Cameron blockbuster won Best Picture? My mom and I felt like we were also soaring high on Titanic’s bow.

Titanic’s been on my mind lately — and not only because our Theater section showcases Titanique, an off-Broadway musical celebration of Dion and the film’s queer legacy. This is Out’s Hollywood Issue, which inspired reflection on why so many LGBTQ+ people love the Oscars, our “gay Super Bowl.” I suspect it’s the same reason why so many of us adored Titanic: the sheer size and spectacle, the parade of fashion and drama, the cutthroat competition among celebrities, where the prize is the crowning glory of a career — no lifeboats required.

But beyond the Hollywood lights, there is a deeper queer investment in films as vessels of culture: what wins, what loses, and what disappears speak to what we care about as a society. When stories centered on people like us are snubbed, it hurts (see Brokeback Mountain losing to Crash in 2006, or the disappointment-turned-amazement when Moonlight won Best Picture over La La Land). Omission can also galvanize cultural and institutional change, like when 2016’s all-white roster of acting nominees sparked #OscarsSoWhite and a shake-up at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

This Oscars could be a monumental one. Our cover star Colman Domingo is a Best Actor frontrunner for his remarkable portrayal of the Black gay civil rights leader Bayard Rustin in Rustin; he’s also been lauded for his The Color Purple role of Mister. In Oscars history, there have been dozens of actors nominated for playing LGBTQ+ roles, but an out actor has never triumphed for playing one. This year, that could change. In our cover story, Domingo discusses this pivotal moment in entertainment history and what it means to achieve this milestone as a Black gay man — and movie star.

Fabulously, Domingo was not the only major LGBTQ+ contender this awards season. Though it missed Oscars love, All of Us Strangers generated well-deserved buzz for leads Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal and writer/director Andrew Haigh. We spoke with the trio about this haunting gay love story. To cover the full queer spectrum of awards season, Out editors share our own queer picks from 2023’s best cinema (Nyad! Nimona! Barbie!).

There’s a world beyond the Dolby Theatre, of course. Singer-songwriter Allison Russell discusses her nomination at this year’s Grammys and her role as a Black queer woman leading change in Americana music. In the streaming universe, Dan Levy discusses his directorial feature-film debut in Netflix’sGood Grief, a moving portrait of mourning and found family. Hollywood star Jeremy Pope also goes behind the lens to create a personal photo series on masculinity, with a little help from RuPaul’s Drag Race icon Symone.

Speaking of drag, the rules of formal wear have changed a lot in recent years. Fashion guru Martin Gregory Jerez offers a guide to dressing up while styling models in Louis Vuitton. Oogle queer red-carpet looks firsthand in our Out100 and NewFest photo roundups. Or ditch the clothes altogether for our travel guide of clothing-optional gay resorts. Need a lover (or some self-love)? Gear up for Valentine’s Day with Grooming tips and hot culinary advice from New York Times Cooking’s Vaughn Vreeland. And find new ways to fund your fabulous life with tips from our Finance columnist Nick Wolny.

It’s a new year, dear reader. And with a certain titanic election looming, change is certainly in the air. So don your finest, grab a refreshment, and take a seat. There’s room in our boat for all of you, and what a show it will be.

Daniel Reynolds
Editor in Chief, Out magazine

This article is part of the Out January/February issue, which hits newsstands on February 6. Support queer media and subscribe — or download the issue through Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News on January 23.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor-in-chief of Out and an award-winning journalist who focuses on the intersection between entertainment and politics. This Jersey boy has now lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade.

Daniel Reynolds is the editor-in-chief of Out and an award-winning journalist who focuses on the intersection between entertainment and politics. This Jersey boy has now lived in Los Angeles for more than a decade.