Oscar Winners Speak Up for LGBTQ Rights

93rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles
Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson, and Sergio Lopez-Rivera won an Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
Chris Pizzello/Pool via REUTERS

The 93rd annual Academy Awards did not necessarily feature an abundance of LGBTQ representation, but some LGBTQ-related films scored Oscars and some speeches acknowledged queer and trans folks.

The Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling went to those behind the film “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which was based on Ma Rainey, a blues singer who was not afraid to invoke her sexual orientation in lyrics. The award-winning makeup and hair squad behind the Netflix film included Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson, and Sergio Lopez-Rivera. That evening, designers Neal and Wilson made history as the first Black women to win in the category.

In Neal’s acceptance speech, she explained how their win would open up more opportunities for women of color, who are often underrepresented in the profession.

“I stand here, as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling, with so much excitement for the future,” Neal said. “Because I can picture Black trans women standing up here, and Asian sisters, and our Latina sisters and Indigenous women.”

Multi-hyphenate producer, actor, director Tyler Perry won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. In his award speech, Perry denounced bigotry against the LGBTQ community and people of color.

“It is my hope that all of us would teach our kids just to refuse hate,” he said. “I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian, Mexican, or Black, White, or LGBTQ.” He added, “I want to dedicate it to anyone who wants to stand in the middle… to refuse hate, refuse blanket judgment, this one is for you too.”

Additionally, out bisexual director, Travon Free, won an Oscar in the Best Live-Action Short Film category for “Two Distant Strangers,” a film about a young Black man’s experience with police brutality.

The calls for increased acceptance of LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups coincides with growing anti-LGBTQ, racist, xenophobic attacks, and fatal shootings of Black individuals by police officers in the US.

To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit gaycitynews.com/newsletter