It’s a long-standing joke that one of the main things you have to do to win an Oscar is “play gay,” and this year we might see that very thing happen to Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch (against our better wishes). If he does, he’ll join what’s a pretty incredible amount of folks — all of them straight — who have won Oscars for playing LGBT characters since 1986. In under 30 years, 10 actors have won Academy Awards in this respect, 8 of them since the year 2000. And here’s the part that’ll get you going. All but one (or two — depending on your interpretation) play characters who — SPOILER ALERT — die at the end. Just like Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing does in “The Imitation Game” (which isn’t a spoiler given he plays a tragic real-life person).
Presenting a history of playing LGBT and winning Oscars (and the speeches that resulted):
1. William Hurt
The year: 1986
The film: Hector Babenco’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman”
The role: Luis Molina, a fictional gay man in prison for having sex with an underage boy.
Did the character die? Yep, he’s shot by homophobic police who then dump his body in a garbage pit and cover up the death.