As always, we limited ourselves to selecting the 10 people who were most influential on LGBT lives during the past year, and the resulting list represents some of the biggest stories of 2016. This was been a difficult but unforgettable year, with astounding advances in representation (Moonlight, Kate McKinnon) and heartbreaking losses (the Pulse shooting, the presidential election).
Who is The Advocate's Person of the Year? (Find out here.) Here are nine runners-up for the title.
MOONLIGHT: This Movie Matters
It may seem strange to nominate a film as a “person of the year.” But Moonlight, a new film from director Barry Jenkins, is filled with such magnificent work from its cast and crew that it warrants an exception. The story was initially conceived by out writer Tarell Alvin McCraney for his play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. It follows a gay black man, Chiron, through three stages of his life: childhood (Alex Hibbert), adolescence (Ashton Sanders), and early adulthood (Trevante Rhodes). His path is not easy. He is bullied by his peers. His emotionally and physically abusive mother is addicted to crack cocaine. He is trapped in a cycle of poverty with little hope of escape. Yet for all these travails — and also because of them — Moonlight has enchanted both audiences and critics, who have universally praised its striking and searing portrayal of humanity. In his review for The New York Times, titled “Moonlight: Is This the Year’s Best Movie?” A.O. Scott praised the beauty of its photography by James Laxton, the richness of its “subtle score” by Nicholas Britell, and “its open-endedness, its resistance to easy summary or categorization.”
“To be afforded a window into another consciousness is a gift that only art can give. To know Chiron is a privilege,” he wrote.
Black gay men rarely get this kind of screen portrayal — the kind that shows them with haunting and joyful complexity and receives glowing reviews from top critics. It may even find its way to the Academy Awards. In a time when so many of the topics addressed by the film — poverty, the school-to-prison pipeline, homophobia, and school bullying — remain real issues in vulnerable communities and in America, it is indeed a privilege to have a film like Moonlight. Perhaps its magic will inspire real-life change.