It was a standout year for LGBTQ productions at the Golden Globes, which gave nominations to many films and television programs showcasing queer lives. The awards ceremony, a key Oscars bellwether, has given a much-deserved spotlight to productions like Pose, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, The Favourite, and Boy Erased.
Yet, despite this progress in representation, very few of these films and shows cast LGBTQ actors in LGBTQ roles. In fact, out of all of the acting nominees, Ben Whishaw and Billy Porter are the only members of the LGBTQ community who received nominations for portraying queer parts: Whishaw as Norman Josiffe in A Very English Scandal and Billy Porter as Pray Tell in Pose. Moreover, the Globes also nominated Girl, a foreign-language film that has received criticism for casting a cisgender actor in a transgender role and for its "dangerous" handling of trans subject matter.
As awards season progresses, it is worth remembering that an out member of the LGBTQ community has never won an Oscar for portraying an LGBTQ role, despite over 50 straight actors having been nominated for queer performances across time. It is a reminder that Hollywood must do better in its casting practices.
Review the straight actors nominated for queer roles at the 2018 Golden Globes below.
Melissa McCarthy was nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for portraying the late lesbian writer Lee Israel in the (excellent) biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me? The film, based on Israel's memoir, shows how the out-of-work biographer coordinated an operation forging the letters of luminaries like Tennessee Williams and Katharine Hepburn, with the famed gay bar Julius' as her home base.
Lucas Hedges was nominated in the Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama category for his performance in Boy Erased as Jared, a teen who is subjected to conversion therapy. Hedges told The Advocate that he falls "within the umbrella of being an ally" of the LGBTQ community, but he has also opened up about being attracted to men while promoting the film.
Rami Malek was nominated in the Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama category for his performance as the bisexual Queen front man Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. The film was popular at the box office, but it received criticism from some LGBTQ activists for its inaccurate portrayal of Mercury's sexuality and his battle with AIDS.
Olivia Colman was nominated in the Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy category for her portrayal of Queen Anne in The Favourite. The period film shows the English monarch at the center of a love triangle between two female members of her court, portrayed by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.
Charlize Theron was nominated in the Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy category for her performance as Marlo, a bisexual mom, in Tully, which was written by Juno's Diablo Cody. Theron famously won an Oscar in 2003 for her role in Monster as a lesbian serial killer.
Emma Stone was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture for her performance as Abigail Hill, an 18th-century social-climber who improves her station by seducing Queen Anne in The Favourite. Stone made the "gayface" list last year for portraying Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes.
Rachel Weisz is another secret lover of Queen Anne in The Favourite, a role that garnered her a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture, a category in which she must vie against Stone for the trophy. This year, Weisz also played a queer character in Disobedience, a film about forbidden love in the Hasidic community.
Mahershala Ali was nominated in the Best Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture category for his performance as jazz pianist Don Shirley in Green Book. Shirley never came out in his lifetime. But the film depicts a real-life incident in which the musician just barely escaped being arrested for a same-sex encounter at a YMCA.
Richard E. Grant was nominated in the category of Best Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture for his portrayal of Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me? Based on a real-life person from the memoir of Lee Israel, Jack is a former hustler who is homeless and HIV-positive. His friendship with Israel, which veers into criminal territory, is a rare movie depiction of a friendship between a gay man and a lesbian.
Sandra Oh, who will also be the host of the Golden Globes, was nominated in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama category for her performance as Eve Polastri in BBC America's Killing Eve. Polastri, an MI5 officer, does not (yet) identify as LGBTQ in the drama series. Yet her hunt for the beautiful, psychopathic killer Villanelle (Jodie Comer) brings about fantasies involving same-sex attraction, which plant her squarely in "questioning" territory.
Darren Criss was nominated in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category for his performance as serial killer Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. Criss rose to fame playing another gay character, Blaine in Glee, which was also created by Ryan Murphy.
Hugh Grant was nominated in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category for his portrayal of Jeremy Thorpe in A Very English Scandal. The British miniseries shows how Thorpe, a member of Parliament, deals with a crisis from Norman Josiffe, an ex-lover brought to life by the gay actor Ben Whishaw.
Alex Borstein was nominated in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category for her performance as Susie Myerson, the comic manager of Miriam "Midge" Maisel in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She previously won an Emmy for the role.
Edgar Ramirez was nominated in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category for portraying Gianni Versace in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. The FX series shows how the gay fashion designer came out to The Advocate and was later murdered by queer serial killer Andrew Cunanan.