Last week we said goodbye to The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore, which Comedy Central surprisingly canceled just months before the presidential election. Wilmore’s voice as a late-night talk show host was a welcome addition to a field that predominantly features white men. His program consistently tackled minorities’ issues in a compassionate and head-on way that none of his contemporaries’ shows matched. His election coverage, for example, was titled "Blacklash 2016: The Unblackening," referring to the fact that the White House will soon be occupied once again by a white person. Wilmore also consistently covered LGBT issues with an understanding and a thoroughness unmatched by any of his peers. With the show's cancellation, an important voice for late-night diversity has been lost. As a goodbye and a thank-you, we thought we’d post some of the moments when Wilmore shone the brightest as an advocate for LGBT people. See them on the next pages
The Republican National Convention
When Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and others at the Republican National Convention speciously pandered to LGBT people in their speeches, Wilmore was there to call them out on their hypocrisy.
This past Pride month, Wilmore slammed the heterosexual pride hashtag, before moving on to praise Pope Francis’s statement that the Catholic Church owed gays an apology, “although it is weird that history’s most gay-friendly pope is the only one not wearing a giant jeweled hat and ruby slippers.”
The Pulse Shooting
In the wake of the devastating attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, all the late-night hosts had something to say, whether they were talking about gun control or media portrayals of violence. Only WIlmore really dug into what made this attack so personal to LGBT people. “A gay bar has historically been the only space where members of the LGBT community can be safe and out about who they are without feeling hated or feeling like a novelty, and because unlike other minority groups in America, LGBT people aren’t born into a home or family that shares that minority experience. So when you think about it, gay bars are really like black churches. Yes, gay bars may have more strobe lights and sugar-free well drinks. But they offer just as much love, just as much safety, and just as much belting by powerful black songstresses.”
Wilmore’s coverage of the 2015 Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage was on point. “And if a state doesn’t recognize [same-sex marriage], do we have to recognize that state?” he quipped, before pulling out a “conservative calculator” to check the math behind some of the more spurious anti-marriage equality claims.
Evan Young's Valedictorian Speech
In 2015, Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School in Colorado did not allow valedictorian Evan Young to give a speech in which he planned to come out of the closet to peers, faculty, and parents. The Nightly Show, in an unusual and inspired move, invited Young to deliver his entire speech on the show, and it is adorable. Wilmore’s willingness to give a voice to a young gay man who had been silenced is commendable. We’ll miss you, Larry Wilmore. Thank you for lending your voice.