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13 LGBT Actors Emmy-Nominated For Playing LGBT Characters, From Ian McKellen To Chris Colfer To Angelina Jolie

By /bent | /Bent August 21, 2014 at 2:03PM

We look back at the history of LGBT actors getting nominations for playing LGBT characters at the Emmys.


As we know, playing an LGBT character has been a Oscar good luck charm to many an actor, from Sean Penn to William Hurt to Charlize Theron or Hilary Swank to Jared Leto...  But how many openly LGBT actors have won Oscars for playing LGBT characters? None. In fact, the only openly LGBT actor who has won an Oscar for playing a character of any orientation was Angelina Jolie for "Girl, Interrupted" (unless you count Jodie Foster or Kevin Spacey) and only a scant few others -- Ian McKellan the only one for playing an LGBT role in "Gods and Monsters" -- have even been nominated. The Emmys, however, are a much different story.


This year, a whopping seven LGBT actors were nominated for playing LGBT characters: Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Laverne Cox, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Nathan Lane Joe Mantello and -- in a sense -- Kate McKinnon (whose "SNL" characters include Ellen deGeneres and 'Dyke' from "Dyke & Fats").  You could also arguably include Spacey again for his "House of Cards" performance as Frank Underwood, though neither the actor or the character has been entirely transparent about their sexuality. And while this is certainly a landmark year in this regard, the Emmys have -- at least relative to the Oscars -- been pretty exceptional in their tendency to nominate LGBT actors for playing LGBT characters, with a few even winning (though there's certainly still a few glaring omissions -- Wilson Cruz on "My So-Called Life" and Sandra Bernhard on "Roseanne" the two immediately springing to mind).

Chris Colfer at the Emmys
Chris Colfer at the Emmys

Over the past two weeks we've been looking back at every example in chronological order.  Leading up to this year's 7 nominees, we counted 15 different LGBT characters played by 13 openly LGBT actors (on two occasions by the same one -- hence 13 and not 15) finding Emmy nominations, the first coming in 1986 (which makes for an impressive overall total of 22). And no David Hyde Pierce doesn't count -- neither him nor Niles Crane were out at the time -- and neither does Rosie O'Donnell, who was nominated for playing herself on "The Larry Sanders Show" (oddly enough in an episode that also prominently featured kd lang) a few years before she came out. And it's also quite possibly we missed someone (especially in the guest acting categories), so let us know if so… But here's all 13 we found:

John Glover

Ian McKellen

Ellen DeGeneres

Angelina Jolie

Sean Hayes

Victor Garber

Leslie Jordan

Dan Bucatinsky

This article is related to: Television, Emmy Awards, LGBT at the Emmys