While 2017 may have been an alarming hellscape in terms of…well, everything, TV, and film stepped up with a few shining moments of triumph for the LGBTQIA+ community. From Lena Waithe making history at the Primetime Emmys, “Bojack Horseman” creating the first openly asexual icon, Todd Chavez, to NBC resurrecting the glowing rainbow that is “Will & Grace,” representation and advocacy for LGBTQIA+ people is the silver lining to an awful past twelve months. Sit back with a glass of champagne and relive some of this year’s best LGBTQIA+ moments in media, in no particular order (they’re too great to rank, y’all). Enjoy, and an early happy New Year to you all!
“Moonlight” Wins Best Picture at the 2017 Oscars
While the announcement involved some confusion when the wrong results were read out, “Moonlight” snagged the award for best picture at the 2017 Oscars. The independent film from writer and director Barry Jenkins (“Medicine for Melancholy”) featured the star power of Mahershala Ali (“House of Cards”), Naomie Harris (“Spectre”), Janelle Monáe (“Hidden Figures”) and more in a beautiful life story of a young, gay black man growing up in Miami. The award win was a landmark win the LGBQTIA+ community, as stories about queer POC rarely see this kind of support from Hollywood. Watch the acceptance speech from the Oscars above.
The Year of Coming Out Stories
2017 twas the year of political mayhem and coming out stories. Television went all-in for LGBTQIA+ characters, giving them a safe space to come out and the words to assure young and closeted audiences that they are not alone and the world can be more accepting than one might think. “One Day At A Time,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Marvel’s Runaways,”“Fresh Off the Boat” and even Disney’s popular kid’s series “Andi Mack” featured a prominent coming out storyline that showed support and understanding for LGBTQIA+ characters, effectively stomping on the current intolerant political pushback against LGBTQIA+ Americans. Watch Cyrus’ coming out moment on “Andi Mack” above.
Lena Waithe, “Black Mirror: San Junipero” Win Big at the Primetime Emmys
Lena Waithe (“Master of None”) made history at the 2017 Primetime Emmys this year, becoming the first black queer woman to win a Primetime Emmy for writing. The writer and actor, who penned “Master of None’s” “Thanksgiving” episode, told the story of her own coming-out with an assist from Angela Bassett (“American Horror Story”), who played her mother. Waithe thanked showrunners Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang for their support, along with acknowledging her “LGBQTIA+ family” and the importance of diversity in entertainment and beyond. Watch her acceptance speech above.
“Black Mirror” also earned accolades for its “San Junipero” episode, a girl-meets-girl love story featuring the vibrant Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, “Belle”) and shy Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis, “Halt and Catch Fire”). “Black Mirror: San Junipero” won Primetime Emmys for outstanding television movie and outstanding writing, and also took home awards for costume design and hair and makeup at the BAFTAS.
Ryan Murphy’s “POSE” Gets the Greenlight
Ryan Murphy’s latest project hasn’t even aired, but it’s already hit some major milestones for trans performers in the TV and film industry. This week, FX officially greenlit the musical series “POSE,” which is set in the iconic 1980s New York ball scene against the opulence of Trump-era New York City. The move cements the show in LGBTQIA+ history, as the project boasts the biggest cast of recurring LGBTQIA+ characters and trans lead actors, with every trans character being played by a trans actor (read more about each actor here). Murphy stacked the deck with some of the best LGBTQIA+ talent there is, hiring Our Lady J (“Transparent”) and trans activist and writer Janet Mock as series writers, along with trans activist director Silas Howard as co-executive producer; Leiomy Maldonado, the “Wonder Woman of Vogue” and Danielle Polanco, who’s choreographed for Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, will choreograph the musical series’ dance scenes. Oh, and to keep the show as accurate to the ’80’s ball scene as possible, Michael Roberson, Twiggy Pucci Garçon, Hector Xtravaganza, Skylar King and Sol Williams will serve as show consultants.
Further kudos go to Murphy for lifting up trans voices with “POSE,” as along with all of the above moves to make “POSE” as awesome as possible, the series will employ trans directors from Murphy’s Directing Mentorship Program from the Half Initiative, giving trans people the opportunity to tell their own stories in front of and behind the camera. With a cast and crew this stunning, I’ll be surprised if “POSE” doesn’t get a second season greenlight immediately after its series premiere.
Asia Kate Dillon Advocates for Non-Binary Actors
Non-binary actor Asia Kate Dillon, who currents stars as Taylor Mason on Showtime’s “Billions,” made waves this year with a letter to the TV Academy, leading to a thoughtful discussion about gender-specific awards categories and Dillon’s freedom to choose either the actress of actor categories when submitting for the annual Primetime Emmy awards. Their advocacy to make award show categories non-gender specifically made waves in Hollywood, with MTV announcing days later that their annual awards would no longer have gendered categories. According to Variety, Dillon also presented the first-ever non-gendered prize at 2017’s MTV Movie & TV Awards, becoming one of Hollywood’s only out non-binary advocates in the process. Dillon went on to select their own category when submitting to the supporting actor category for the Primetime Emmys, choosing the “actor” category due to its origins as a non-gendered term for performers.
“Star Trek: Discovery” Brings Canon Queer Love to the Final Frontier
After decades upon decades of hinting at love connections between Kirk, Spock, Bones McCoy, the “Star Trek” franchise finally gave us a canon gay couple to freak out over with the new TV series “Star Trek: Discovery.” Bringing in veteran LGBTQIA+ actors Anthony Rapp (“Rent”) and Wilson Cruz (“My So-Called Life”) as married couple Lt. Paul Stamets and medical officer Dr. Hugh Culber, the pair have quickly become the sole example of a healthy, loving relationship on the brooding, emotionally constipated Discovery. In the episode “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” (the best one of Season 1, in my Trekkie opinion), Stamets is the only character who actually knows what love looks or feels like, teaching Michael Burnham that honesty and trust are the cornerstones of any romantic relationship. Finally, the final frontier has two out-and-proud LGBTQIA+ characters! Read more about the episode here.
“Sense8” Fans Triumph After Devastating Cancellation News
Never underestimate the power of a loyal fanbase. After the devastating news that Netflix canceled the LGBTQIA+ utopia that is “Sense8,” fans pulled together to voice their anger over its sudden end. Co-creator Lana Wachowski (“The Matrix” series) soon posted a letter to the loyal Sense8 family, announcing that their voices turned the tides and secured a two-hour season finale for the series. Read more about this instance of queer clap-back power here.
“Call Me By Your Name” Courts Oscar Best Picture Nomination
The awards buzz has continued to circle “Call Me By Your Name,” a coming-of-age gay love story from director Luca Guadagnino set in romantic Northern Italy starring Timothée Chalamet (“Interstellar”) and Armie Hammer (“The Social Network”). The film, already nominated for three Golden Globes, has raked in an innumerable amount of awards from film critics, including a wave of break-out actor acknowledgments for Chalamet. “Call Me By Your Name” is in contention for several categories according to Awards Circuit’s Oscar predictions, as is Chalamet for best actor, and has already cemented its place as one of the best films of 2017. Can a gay love story snag another Oscar for best picture in the coming year? One can only hope.
“Will & Grace” Makes Triumphant, F*** Trump Return
A staple of gay TV came back with a vengeance this fall after 11 years off the air, ready to lampoon President Donald Trump with Cheeto jokes and a firm stance against hate and intolerance. The positive buzz for the reboot series, which sees the return of Debra Messing (“The Mysteries of Laura”), Eric McCormack (“Perception”), Megan Mullally (“Children’s Hospital”) and Sean Hayes (“Grimm”) has already earned the greenlight for a second season from NBC. The world of politics may be burning down around us, but at least Karen’s there to pour some drinks and Will is around to talk Grace down from her ensuing panic attack while Jack plans his Doomsday outfit.
“Bojack Horseman’s” Todd Comes Out As Asexual
And finally, we have a coming-out so verbose and well-handled, it deserves its own spot on this list. Netflix’s “Bojack Horseman” created one of the best (and only) discussions about asexuality, with character Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul) coming out as asexual to an understanding Bojack. The episode, titled “Hooray! Todd Episode!,” focused putting Todd’s well-being on the front burner for once, with Todd struggling to find a label that fits his identity before realizing he’s ace, saying, “It actually feels nice to actually say it out loud. I am an asexual person. I am asexual…[I]t feels good to talk about it.” The episode ends on a scene with an absent Todd, who’s decided to skip orchestra for once and go to his first asexual meet-up. A lion piccolo player, noticing Todd isn’t there to play the triangle, smiles and simply says “Good for him.”
I’m not crying, you’re crying. Watch Todd’s coming-out scene above.