In a year filled overwhelmingly with white and heterosexual nominees, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made LGBT history.
A transgender musician, Antony Hegarty, was nominated for Best Orginal Song.
Hegarty, the lead vocalist of the band Antony and The Johnsons, created the track “Manta Ray” for Racing Extinction. Hegarty is credited as the writer of the song’s lyrics, with the music by J. Ralph (Chasing Ice). The documentary follows activists as they try to stem the tide of manmade mass extinction of the world’s animals.
“I always think about those stories about the last bird, or the last of a species, when they’re calling out and they don’t have the other animal, the partner that can call back to them,” Hogarty stated in an interview with Flavorwire. “The idea of the disappearing voice is very resonant for me. What hears a solitary voice. What responds to a solitary voice.”
This marks the second known time the Academy has nominated an out transgender person in any category, reports Jezebel. Previously, the late Angela Morley, a transgender composer, received two nominations for The Little Prince (1974) and The Slipper and the Rose (1976).
While several films with transgender themes and characters—Boys Don’t Cry, Dallas Buyers Club, Transamerica, and The World According to Garp, to name a few—have been recognized in years past, the honors have uniformly gone to the cisgender actors who are cast in these roles. Even in 2016, Eddie Redmayne was nominated for Best Actor for his role as transgender pioneer Lily Elbe in The Danish Girl.
Many, including trans Olympian and reality star Caitlyn Jenner, had been rooting for the transgender stars of Tangerine to be recognized at this year’s awards ceremony. Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez had been lauded for their performance as two sex workers searching for a cheating pimp in Los Angeles, garnering Spirit Award nominations and a Gotham Award for Taylor.
But Taylor and Rodriguez, along with a host of other diverse films and actors, were snubbed in the major Oscar categories, which were announced Thursday morning.
"The lack of diversity is sending a clear message to a majority of the audience that you too don't deserve to be recognized," lamented Karamo Brown, a gay and black media figure, in an op-ed for The Advocate titled "The Academy Must Honor More Than Straight White People."
In a recent interview with The Advocate, Taylor, who along with Taylor was among the LGBT magazine's 40 Under 40 list, expressed how an Oscar nomination would have meant a great deal for transgender people. It would not only increase visibility of the community and its struggles, she expressed, but such an honor would also send an important message: “…If I can make it, then you can make it.”
In the category of Best Original Song, the track from Racing Extinction will be competing with “Simple Song #3 from Youth, “Earned It” from 50 Shades of Grey, and “Til It Happens to You,” a song about sexual abuse created by Diane Warren and bisexual artist Lady Gaga for The Hunting Ground.
Listen to “Manta Ray” below.