The 91st Academy Awards took place last night in downtown Los Angeles, and Hollywood’s biggest night brought its fair share of surprises and upsets.
From the controversial Green Book winning Best Picture, to Olivia Colman’s surprising (and emotional) win over Glenn Close for Best Actress, to Spike Lee finally getting an Academy Award (Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlandsman), the Oscars still managed to deliver an entertaining evening, even without a host.
But what was most surprising was the sheer amount of both LGBTQ people and stories on display both before and during the awards.
As GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis noted in a statement: “From Billy Porter rocking the carpet, to Lady Gaga’s powerful performance on stage, queer people, stories, and characters were front and center at the Oscars this evening.”
Lady Gaga crowned her awards season with an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Shallow” from A Star Is Born. The bisexual star also received a standing ovation after she and co-star Bradley Cooper performed the song, which is now officially the most awarded song in history.
In a moving and emotional speech while collecting her Oscar, Gaga offered support to anyone struggling to achieve their goals.
“This is hard work. I have worked hard for a long time,” Lady Gaga said. “It’s not about winning. What it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it.”
During her acceptance speech for Best Actress for The Favourite, Colman referenced the lesbian relationships at the film’s heart, between her Queen Anne, and the two women vying for Anne’s affections, Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail Masham (Emma Stone). Colman thanked “Emma and Rachel, the two loveliest women in the world to fall in love with.”
Rami Malek took home Best Actor for his performance as Freddie Mercury in the otherwise middling Bohemian Rhapsody, and delivered a powerful speech that honored Mercury’s status as an LGBTQ icon.
Malek, whose parents moved to America from Egypt, tied his own narrative to Mercury’s, and said his younger self — a “kid…struggling with his identity” — could take a lot from the film.
“We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself,” he said. “The fact that I’m celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we’re longing for stories like this.”
He added: “I am the son of immigrants from Egypt. I am a first generation American, and part of my story is being written right now and I could not be more grateful.”
(There was, however, no mention of director Bryan Singer, who was removed from Bohemian Rhapsody shortly before filming wrapped and has since been accused of multiple accounts of sexual misconduct with teenaged and underage boys.)
Mahershala Ali notched up a second Oscar win (making him the first black and muslim actor to win Best Supporting Actor twice) for his performance as queer pianist Dr. Don Shirley in Green Book.
Despite Green Book‘s three wins (including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay), Ali was the only person to personally thank Shirley — whose family have come out against the film — in his speech, saying, “I was trying to capture Dr. Shirley’s essence, which was a reflection of the person he was and the life that he lived.”
Winning Best Supporting Actress for If Beale Street Could Talk, Regina King paid tribute to gay writer and activist James Baldwin, whose eponymous novel was adapted for Barry Jenkins’ film.
“To be standing here, representing one of the greatest artists of our time, James Baldwin, is a little surreal,” she said. “James Baldwin birthed this baby, and Barry [Jenkins] you nurtured her.”
Elsewhere at the awards: gay composer Marc Shaiman performed onstage with Bette Midler for his nominated song “Where the Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns; queer actresses Sarah paulson and Amandla Stenberg both presented awards, as did bisexual actress Tessa Thompson; and out musician Adam Lambert kicked the show off with Queen, performing a medley of the band’s songs.
Meanwhile, on a red carpet filled with outrageous and incredible fashion, Pose star and Tony Award-winning actor Billy Porter — who helped host ABC’s red carpet coverage — drew rave reviews for his phenomenal, custom Christian Siriano velvet tuxedo gown.
Bask in Porter and his outfit’s magnificence below: