Only two films were nominated Tuesday for the GLAAD Media Awards in the best wide-released film category, a sharp reduction from as many as five movies normally recognized and an indication that there may be a diversity regression when it comes to LGBTQ representation.
One of those films is “Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-nominated tale about a black gay boy coming of age (and into his sexuality) in Miami. The other is “Star Trek Beyond,” which revealed John Cho’s Hikaru Sulu as the sci-fi franchise’s first openly gay character last year.
“At a time when progress is at a critical juncture, it is imperative that Hollywood tell more LGBTQ stories that reflect the community’s rich diversity — and build understanding that brings all communities closer together,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO, in a statement.
Such an appeal is even more important for the LGBTQ community considering the uncertain political times that have come with the election of President Trump.
GLAAD is the world’s media advocacy organization for LGBTQ representation. Its Media Awards are an annual barometer of how film, television, music and journalism are reflecting — fairly, accurately and inclusively — the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and the issues that affect their lives.
Considering the LGBTQ community has experienced unprecedented visibility in media in recent years, having just two films vying for the late-spring event’s top prize is surprising. This is the fewest number of nominees in this category since 2003. Last year, “Dope,” “The Danish Girl,” “Freeheld,” “Grandma” and “Carol” were recognized, with the last taking home the award.
Still, what appears to be a regression in LGBTQ visibility, at least in film, does fall in line with what GLAAD’s most recent Studio Responsibility Index, released last May, noted. On the heels of the then-fresh #OscarsSoWhite, the group deemed sexual and gender identity as yet another form of diversity that Hollywood fails to reflect.
The index, now in its fourth year, maps the quantity, quality and diversity of LGBTQ people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios: 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios, Sony Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures. It found that, in evaluating 2015’s media, “Hollywood’s films lag far behind any other form … when it comes to portrayals of LGBTQ characters” and that “too often, the few LGBTQ characters that make it to the big screen are the target of a punchline or token characters.”
The index found that only 17.5% of the 126 major releases of 2015 had an LGBTQ character, a value that had not changed from the previous year. And when there was an LGBTQ character present, it was usually a gay white man and he was only on screen for a maximum of 10 minutes.
At the time, Ellis implored the industry to “embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.” The same sentiment will likely persist come the 2016 index to be released later this year.
The limited-release films category, however, is a lot more competitive with festival circuit standouts “Other People” and “Spa Night” up against “The Handmaiden,” “Naz & Maalik” and “Those People.” It should also be noted that none of these films were released by a major studio, and most can already be seen on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon.
As for other nominees, in the documentary category, “The Trans List,” “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures,” “Out of Iraq,” “The Same Difference” and “Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four” were all nominated. On the television side of honors, “black-ish,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Survivor’s Remorse” were among those recognized.
“This year’s nominees have created images and storylines that challenge misconceptions and broaden understanding, accelerating acceptance and equality for LGBTQ people across the globe,” Ellis said.
There are a total of 115 nominees in 21 English-language categories and 41 Spanish-language nominees in 11 categories. In the English-language categories, cable networks earned 31 nominations, and broadcast networks garnered 17 nominations. Streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon and Seeso, received seven.
Final winners will be announced at two ceremonies later in the year, on April 1 in Los Angeles and on May 6 in New York.
Check out some of the nominees below. The full list is on the GLAAD website.
Outstanding Film — Wide Release
“Star Trek Beyond”
Outstanding Film — Limited Release
“Naz & Maalik”
Outstanding comedy series
“Grace and Frankie”
“The Real O'Neals”
“Take My Wife”
Outstanding drama series
“Hap and Leonard”
“How to Get Away with Murder”
“Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures”
“Out of Iraq”
“The Same Difference”
“Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four”
“The Trans List”
Outstanding music artist
Against Me!, “Shape Shift With Me”
Blood Orange, “Freetown Sound”
Brandy Clark, “Big Day in a Small Town”
Tyler Glenn, “Excommunication”
Ty Herndon, “House on Fire”
Elton John, “Wonderful Crazy Night”
Lady Gaga, “Joanne”
Frank Ocean, “Blonde”
Sia, “This Is Acting”
Tegan and Sara, “Love You to Death”
Outstanding digital journalism article
“105 Trans Women on American TV: A History and Analysis” by Riese Bernard (Autostraddle.com)
“After the Orlando Shooting, the Changed Lives of Gay Latinos” by Daniel Wenger (NewYorker.com)
“The Methodist Church May Split Over LGBT Issues. Meet the Lesbian Bishop Caught in the Middle” by Becca Andrews (MotherJones.com)
“These are the Queer Refugees Australia Has Locked Up on a Remote Pacific Island” by J. Lester Feder (BuzzFeed.com)
“The Uncertain Olympic Future for Trans and Intersex Athletes” by Diana Tourjee (Broadly.Vice.com)