Billy Porter / Instagram
A drag queen took to the red carpet for the first time while LGBTQ themed films scored major awards, ensuring that the 2019 Oscars will go down as the queerest yet.
Even before the ceremony itself began, Drag Race veteran Shangela Laquifa Wadley, who appeared in the nominated A Star Is Born, wowed the crowd and media outside the venue.
She arrived with actress Jenifer Lewis and wore a pale purple and gold gown by designer Diego Montoya. Noting that she was probably the first drag queen on the Oscars red carpet, Shangela told The Harbinger: “I hope that means something to somebody out there, cause it sure does mean something to me!”
Performer, pop singer, and actor Billy Porter (Pose) also turned heads with his ensemble. He wore a Christian Siriano tuxedo jacket with a black velvet gown and platform boots. It was one half tuxedo and one half ballgown, and looked stunning.
Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody
Writing for Vogue about his Oscar outfit, he said: “My goal is to be a walking piece of political art every time I show up. To challenge expectations. What is masculinity? What does that mean?” He added that, “This look was interesting because it’s not drag. I’m not a drag queen, I’m a man in a dress.”
Once the 91st Annual Academy Awards themselves got going, LGBTQ-themed films and performers took home a number of golden statues.
Rami Malek won Best Actor for his acclaimed portrayal of queer music legend Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. “We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself,” said Malek in his acceptance speech. “The fact that I’m celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we’re longing for stories like this.”
British star Olivia Colman was awarded the Actress in a Leading Role statue for her take on the queer Queen Anne in The Favourite. She thanked, “Emma and Rachel, the two loveliest women in the world to fall in love with,” in her speech.
Shangela / Instagram
Green Book, which tells the controversial and contested story of the friendship between queer classical and jazz pianist Dr. Don Shirley and his driver, scored a trio of awards. Mahershala Ali won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance as Shirley, while the film was further honoured with Best Original Screenplay and the most coveted award of the night, Best Picture.
Another highlight was the impressive onstage performance by bisexual-identifying superstar Lady Gaga with co-star (and director) Bradley Cooper. Their duet of Shallow from A Star is Born received a standing ovation, and the song and Gaga (a co-writer) went on to win Best Original Song.
“From Billy Porter rocking the carpet, to Lady Gaga’s powerful performance on stage, queer people, stories, and characters were front and center at the Oscars this evening,” commented Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of LGBTQ media advocacy group, GLAAD.
Thank you to all the Queens that came before me. All those who were not welcomed but still held their heads high. Those who dealt with ignorance and hatred. Those who withstood the time when being a drag Queen wasn’t respected or applauded. Thank you. And to the Queens of today and tomorrow, hold your head High and know that you must love and accept yourself, even when others don’t. WerQ hard, be Kind to people and you can achieve whatever u dream. Yesterday I walked the largest red carpet in the world… but I didn’t do it alone. I did it with and for ALL OF US. Queer visibility and representation matters. And I hope to rep us well. Also, Huge Thank U to @marc_shaiman, Lou, Scott Wittman, Brian and my @jeniferlewisforreal for making the dream a reality. And also CONGRATS to @LadyGaga, Bradley and all the @starisbornmovie family. What a Moment! And to my team, Diego, Carlos, Lipstick Nic, Anthony, Liam and Nick. You guys are a Dream Team ❤️