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).
Between now and the August 25th Emmy ceremony, we’re going to look 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 without further adieu, the earliest example:
Check back tomorrow for the next nominee…