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Watch 10 Watercooler LGBT Moments From Awards Shows of the Past (Plus One Request For Next Year)

By Matthew Hammett Knott and Sophie Smith | /Bent January 29, 2014 at 11:11AM

The already-infamous mass wedding at Sunday’s Grammy ceremony has been creating fevered discussion all week, not least on this blog. But it was not the first time that a high profile awards ceremony has found itself the stage, deliberately or otherwise, for a watercooler moment for the LGBT community. Here we remind you of ten occasions - some resoundingly positive, others more questionable - that had us talking then and now.
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The already-infamous mass wedding at Sunday’s Grammy ceremony has been creating fevered discussion all week, not least on this blog. But it was not the first time that a high profile awards ceremony has found itself the stage, deliberately or otherwise, for a watercooler moment for the LGBT community. Here we remind you of ten occasions - some resoundingly positive, others more questionable - that had us talking then and now:

1. Linda Hunt wins an Oscar for "The Year of Living Dangerously"
This remains one of the most composed, compelling and articulate acceptance speeches out there. No mean feat in the face of a sea of 80s bouffants, puff sleeves and Cher's fixed glower. Hunt, openly lesbian, was the first person to win an Oscar for playing someone of the opposite sex. What more is there to say? [SS]


2. Tom Hanks wins an Oscar for “Philadelphia”

Famous for inspiring the film “In and Out” - the story of a closeted school drama teacher unwittingly outed by a famous former pupil at the awards podium - the real life version was not quite so dramatic (the drama teacher thanked by Hanks was openly gay, and surprised but not upset by Hanks’ dedication to him as one of “the finest gay Americans”). The speech’s real power came from Hanks’ incredibly emotional allusion to the phrase “all men are created equal”, in the context of AIDs-related deaths - a powerful statement for 1994 primetime television without a doubt. [MHK]

3. Madonna’s VMA drag queen tribute
Of course, it would be nice if trans acts of every variety weren’t so routinely excluded from mainstream performance platforms. But that doesn’t stop the iconic Madonna drag queen tribute at the 1999 VMAs from being fifty shades of fabulous. Best of all was Madonna’s perfect quip following the performance. “All I have to say is it takes a real man to fill my shoes”. [MHK]


4. Brokeback Mountain loses Best Picture

No film in history has received as many awards precursors (Golden Globe, BAFTA, PGA, DGA, WGA and Critics Choice among many, many others) and then gone on to lose Best Picture. But the audible gasp when Jack Nicholson revealed “Crash” as 2005’s Best Picture winner will be remembered by many as a moment when, in the face of unprecedented mainstream acclaim for an LGBT romance, homophobia reared its ugly head. [MHK]


5. Ellen hosts the Oscars
When Ellen first hosted the Oscars back in 2007 she became the first out gay person to do so. And she didn't let the significance pass by unnoticed. In front of an estimated 76.72 million worldwide viewers she pointed out the diversity in the room "in a year when there's been so many negative things said about people's race, religion and sexual orientation. And I want to put this out there: if there weren't blacks, Jews and gays, there would be no Oscars, or anyone named Oscar, when you think about that." (It's also worth noting that this was the second time the Oscars was produced by the indomitable but now sadly departed Laura Ziskin, the first woman to produce the Academy Awards.) [SS]


This article is related to: Awards Season Roundup