June is an important month for the LGBTQ+ community. It's a month to celebrate pride. A month to celebrate being who you are. And a month to celebrate love and equality. With pride parades happening all over the US, now is the perfect time to celebrate some of the milestones the entertainment industry has accomplished so far this year. With more queer characters on screen than ever before and films making history, 2017 has seen huge steps forward when it comes to representation and inclusion of the #LGBTQ community.
8. Disney's Beauty And The Beast (Barely) Made An Iconic Character Gay
Marketed to the LGBTQ+ community as an "exclusively gay moment" and a huge step forward in #Disney's inclusion of queer characters, the character of LeFou (Josh Gad) was gay in the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. However, watching the movie, there was only a blink-and-you'll-miss-it hint at his sexuality.
In one scene of the movie, LeFou can be seen dancing with another man. That's right, the big "exclusively gay moment" is a dance with a same-sex partner. This decision will hopefully pave the way for queer representation in Disney films, but this apparently key gay character was poorly executed and many casual fans probably didn't even notice.
7. Alien: Covenant Featured Action's First Gay Married Couple
The inclusion of a gay married couple in the #Alien franchise was almost as subtle as Beauty and the Beast's, but it's far more poignant and thus more important. While Disney used LeFou's sexuality to market the film and make it groundbreaking, one of the couples aboard Ridley Scott's ship in Alien: Covenant casually happened to be gay and it was barely mentioned.
Attention paid to this couple's sexuality wasn't overdone, there weren't any jokes about the couple, and they received the same treatment as their straight counterparts. And that in itself is groundbreaking. It was a decision that didn't seem forced or included for inclusion's sake; their sexuality was part of their characters' identity and that was all it needed to be.
While we're still a long way from seeing major gay characters in action movies, this was an important moment. It's also worth mentioning that #AlienCovenant also had a gay kiss between Michael Fassbender's Walter and #MichaelFassbender's (yes the same actor) David, who are both androids (I never thought I'd write such a weird sentence). Unfortunately, fans in China will probably never see that kiss as the country's censors have cut the scene from the film.
6. MPAA Reversed 3 Generations Rating In A Move Of Transgender Inclusion
3 Generations stars Elle Fanning as a transgender teenager seeking his biological father to obtain legal consent to transition. Originally, the Motion Picture Association of America gave the movie a hard R rating, a move that caused backlash from the transgender community and its advocates. GLAAD said the R rating "sends a dangerous message to this already marginalized community" and helped fight the rating.
Eventually, with some cinematic cuts, the rating was reversed and given a PG-13 rating, allowing trans teens to see the movie without parental consent. The reclassification helped bring a mainstream LGBTQ+ film to a larger audience by not restricting a key demographic. Unfortunately, the film was critically panned for the way it handled its subject matter, but hopefully the rating will lead to more studios and producers creating stories and films centered on the LGBTQ+ community.
5. Marvel's Lesbian-Led Superhero Team Runaways Picked Up By Hulu
Marvel's Runaways has long struggled to hook a live-action adaptation. Originally planned to be part of the MCU as a movie, the team of teenage superheroes has found a home on Hulu and will premiere next year. A key character of the Runaways is Karolina Dean, one of the few lesbian characters in #Marvel's vast comic universe. Within the pages of the books, Karolina is a symbol of pride for readers and, despite her powers seeming a little gimmicky (she's a lesbian who is literally a rainbow), her story has always been treated with respect and her sexuality rarely a source of jokes or ridicule.
Hopefully #Hulu will keep this important part of her character and not obstruct it or try to erase it. At this point it's a waiting game, but if her character is treated true to the source material, the adaptation will gift us with one of the first major gay characters Marvel has committed to screen.
4. Yellow Ranger's Sexuality In Power Rangers
Speaking of gay superheroes, #PowerRangers broke fresh ground this year when Yellow Power Ranger Trini discussed her sexuality, becoming the first queer big-screen superhero. Despite criticism leveled at the movie for having the character "question" her sexuality, having a queer superhero in a cinematic outing was an important moment for LGBTQ+ people.
I appreciated that the character was unsure of her sexual identity, as this uncertainty marks an important rite of passage when discovering who one is. Director Dean Israelite discussed the scene in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter:
"She hasn't fully figured it out yet. I think what's great about that scene and what that scene propels for the rest of the movie is, 'That's OK.' The movie is saying, 'That's OK,' and all of the kids have to own who they are and find their tribe."
It's a powerful scene for LGBTQ+ youth discovering who they are, and finding a character they can identify with who understands what they are experiencing.
3. MTV Has First Genderless Acting Award
The MTV Movie & TV Awards took a chance this year by abolishing gender-segregated acting awards, simply creating one gender-neutral Best Performance category for the first time. Emma Watson won the fan-voted accolade for her role as Belle in #BeautyandtheBeast, and in her inspiring speech discussed why gender-neutral awards are a big deal:
"It indicates that acting is about the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. And that doesn’t need to be separated into two different categories."
The award was presented by nonbinary actor Asia Kate Dillon, known for playing Brandy Epps on Orange is the New Black and what is considered to be TV's first nonbinary character, Taylor on the show Billions. While most mainstream outlets focused on the fact a gender-neutral acting category meant men and women weren't separated, the decision does enables genderqueer, gender-fluid and nonbinary actors an opportunity to be recognized for their talents. As Dillon told The Hollywood Reporter, MTV's Best Performance award is "the first acting award ever that celebrates performance free of any gender distinctions."
2. Moonlight's African-American Queer Embrace Won MTV's Best Kiss
MTV's gender-neutral award wasn't the only important milestone the ceremony gave us in 2017. Each year, MTV awards a Best Kiss trophy to a scene from a movie or television show. This year the fan-voted award went to #Moonlight's Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome. The kiss was the first queer kiss to win the award and in their acceptance speech the two young actors acknowledged how important the award was, not only to themselves but to the LGBTQ+ community. Sanders said as he accepted the golden popcorn, "This represents more than a kiss. This is for those who feel like the others, the misfits; this represents us."
1. Moonlight Becomes First LGBTQ Film To Win Best Picture At The Academy Awards
MTV's Best Kiss award was the last in a long string of wins for Moonlight during this year's awards season. Taking home the most coveted Academy Award, Moonlight made history by becoming the first LGBTQ+ film to win Best Picture. Unfortunately, the historic moment was overshadowed by a mistake in which #LaLaLand was accidentally announced as the winner instead.
However, the mishap was swiftly corrected and doesn't take away from the fact that Moonlight accomplished something truly amazing and proved that LGBTQ+ films can succeed. Winning Best Picture, Moonlight laid the groundwork for even more films and people to embrace the LGBTQ+ community, creating an environment of inclusion and equality.
The year is only halfway over and we've already seen so many huge breakthroughs to a more inclusive world, one that celebrates pride and the queer community. With months left in 2017 and many years to come, these eight moments have marked themselves as important milestones for inclusion and representation.