I’m Selina, Awards Circuit’s queer Girl Friday for everything LGBTQIA+ on film and TV! With 2019 quickly approaching, I’ve been thinking back on 20GayTeen, the year of “The Favourite,” “Pose” and a lesbian Batwoman. Here are my top ten LGBTQIA+ moments of 2018, in the arenas of film and TV.
10“Queer Eye’s” Fab 5 Enchant America
It’s hard to reboot a beloved series, but “Queer Eye” has the heart, style, and swagger of the first series with a more diverse group of participants. Straight and queer audiences alike have fallen for Tan’s french tucks, Karamo’s wise words, Bobby’s home renovations, and Antoni’s fresh dishes, while Jonathan has become the meme-worthy hair guru here to teach you how to trim your beard and slay every room you walk into. Can you believe???
9Lesbian Comedians Rule In The Sea Of Netflix Comedy Specials
2018 twas the year of the Netflix special, with every other comedian putting out their own hour of standup. But soaring above the bunch were Tig Notaro, Hannah Gadsby, and Ellen DeGeneres, who put out massively popular specials “Happy To Be Here,” “Nanette” and “Relatable.” Degeneres had a particular triumph with “Relatable,” her return to stand-up after almost two decades.
8Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy Become America’s Sweethearts at the PyeongChang Olympics
2018’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang saw the meteoric rise of U.S. Olympians Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy, the first openly gay athletes to represent the Olympics. Kenworthy also became one of the first gay athletes to kiss his partner on-camera during the Olympics, while Rippon went on to break the internet by attending the Oscars in a suit and leather harness.
7Teen Coming-Of-Age Films Tell Queer Stories
2018 took its 20GayTeen nickname very seriously. “Boy Erased” and “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” wowed critics this year, with “Boy Erased” earning 2 Golden Globe nominations and “Cameron Post” earning the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Following gay teen protagonists, both films brought attention to modern day conversion therapy camps in the US, where only 14 states have outlawed the practice.
A fellow coming-of-age film “Love, Simon” also featured a closeted main character, though this time around he’s accepted with love and kindness by his friends, family, and crush. “Love, Simon” is best recognized for making film history, becoming the first big-budget rom-com from a major studio (Fox) told from the viewpoint of a gay protagonist.
6GLAAD Reports Highest Number of LGBTQIA+ Characters Ever on Broadcast TV
According to GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” report, we’re seeing more LGBTQIA+ characters on television than ever before; and, for the first time ever, LGBTQIA+ people of color (50%) outnumber white LGBTQIA+ people (49%). Collectively, 8.8% of series regulars on broadcast television were LGBTQIA+, an increase from 2017’s 6.4%. And, as GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis pointed out, these characters featured in shows with spectacular ratings, showing Hollywood that telling more diverse stories pays off. Read the full report here.
5Kenyan Film “Rafiki” Temporarily Unbanned For Oscars Qualifying Run, Promptly Sells Out In Theaters
Kenyan indie film “Rafiki,” a story about two girls who fall in love in a country where homosexuality is illegal, was 2018’s little engine that could. “Rafiki” premiered at Cannes (the first Kenyan feature film to do so), but was suppressed from theaters by the Kenyan Film Classification Board for its gay content. The ban would’ve blocked “Rafiki” from consideration for the Foreign Film Oscar…so director Wanuri Kahiu sued film board president Ezekiel Mutua and Kenyan attorney general Paul Kihara for the right to show the film. And won. The Kenyan high court temporarily lifted “Rafiki’s” ban for a week-long theater run, though “Rafiki” was saddled with an over-18 rating. The film went on to sell out in Kenyan theaters, with a Nairobi expanding its showings to a second screen to keep up with demand. Never underestimate the power of lesbian love, y’all. See the official trailer above.
4Ruby Rose Becomes TV’s First Batwoman
Ruby Rose (“Orange Is The New Black”) became Gotham’s new protector in The CW’s Arrowverse. The genderfluid, lesbian actor was tapped for the role of Batwoman aka Kate Kane, Batman’s lesbian cousin and veteran forced out of the military by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Rose premiered in her new role on The CW’s DC crossover “Elseworlds,” which featured the Flash, Green Arrow, Supergirl, Superman and more teaming up to save their worlds. She is the first to play a live-action Batwoman, and potentially the first gay lead of a superhero TV series if she gets her expected spinoff.
3“Pose” Premieres, Becomes Biggest Trans Cast of Color Ever on TV
“Pose,” the FX drama series following the drag-ball scene in 1980s New York City, made history before a single episode aired. The fabulous drama, helmed by Ryan Murphy, assembled the largest cast of trans actors in series regular roles in scripted TV history. On top of being a damn good show with touching storylines, great choreography, and opulent costumes, “Pose” honors LGBTQIA+ people of color in front of and behind the camera, hiring trans writers and directors to accurately portray trans experiences. “Pose” is about LGBTQIA+ people, for LGBTQIA+ people, and has already earned Golden Globe nominations for Best Drama TV Series and an acting nomination for star Billy Porter, along with an AFI Award for TV Program of the Year.
2“A Fantastic Woman,” “Call Me By Your Name,” “Coco” and More Honored At The 2018 Oscars
LGBTQIA+ stories shone their brightest this year on the Oscars stage, where LGBTQIA+ artists on screen and behind the camera won big. Sebastián Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman” starring trans actress Daniela Vega took home the Foreign Film Oscar, with Vega also becoming the first openly trans person to be a presenter at the Academy’s soon after. James Ivory won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for gay romance “Call Me by Your Name,” while “Coco” filmmakers Adrian Molina and Darla K. Anderson thanked their same-sex spouses and acknowledged the power of representation in children’s stories.
Finally, during the yearly tearjerker that is the “In Memoriam” tribute, the late lesbian documentarian Debra Chasnoff was thanked for her contributions to cinema. While the average home viewer may not know her name, Chasnoff was a filmmaker who worked to put LGBTQIA+ experiences on screen, directing the groundbreaking 1984 doc on intentional lesbian families, “Choosing Children.” She was also the first lesbian to thank her partner in an Academy Award acceptance speech for her doc “Deadly Deception: General Electric, Nuclear Weapons and Our Environment.”
1Multiple Contenders Bring A Rainbow Edge To 2019 Oscars Race
Finally, we come to this year’s three big queer films, all of which are some of the biggest contenders in the Oscars race right now. Rami Malek, star of Queer biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” is hotly competing for Lead Actor beside actor/director Bradley Cooper, who stunned alongside Lady Gaga in “A Star Is Born” (I consider “A Star Is Born” to be queer because of Lady Gaga, Shangela, Willam, and the film’s plot, which follows in the footsteps of dramatic Hollywood romance, something our community has loved since its inception).
The biggest of the three, in terms of queer storytelling, has to be Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite,” a lesbian historical drama starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz that’s been sweeping up awards left and right. In a world where the Kenyan film “Rafiki” had to sue for the right to play in movie theaters, seeing LGBTQIA+ stories like “The Favourite” see this amount of praise reminds us that progress may be slow, but we are getting somewhere. Let’s raise a glass to 2018, and hope the Oscars get even gayer in the coming year.