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Winners or not,
queer films got Oscar's attention

Winners or not,
queer films got Oscar's attention

Even before the first gleaming Oscar was presented, Hollywood's biggest night was already a milestone for gay, lesbian, and transgender communities. Three films--Brokeback Mountain, Capote, and Transamerica--dealt with gay or transgender characters, drawing critical acclaim and a combined 15 Oscar nominations.

But a sweep wasn't in the cards. Brokeback, with a leading eight nominations, did win Oscars for director, adapted screenplay, and original score. Capote, which had five nods going into the awards, earned the Best Actor honor. Transamerica was shut out, despite great reviews for lead actress Felicity Huffman.

Gay rights advocates said the number of Oscars earned by those movies wasn't as important as their impact on Hollywood and America. "The films lead to conversations, and conversations lead to greater awareness, a level of comfort with gay and lesbian Americans," said Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Others weren't surprised that the gay-themed films found mixed success at the Oscars. "I think America sent a message to those in the industry that this isn't something that they're interested in, and, hopefully, this was something that weighed heavily on them as they voted for these pictures," said Alan Chambers, president of Orlando, Fla.-based Exodus International, a Christian organization that promotes "freedom from homosexuality." Chambers acknowledged, however, that Hollywood will likely keep pushing the envelope with more films dealing with gay themes.

All the attention--and even the jokes--that Brokeback and the other films generated helped gay cinema, said Jennifer Morris, codirector of the San Francisco International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Film Festival, which is marking its 30th year in 2006. "That's the best thing about these films, especially with Transamerica and Brokeback Mountain," Morris said. "This really was a groundbreaking year." (Alex Veiga, AP)

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