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« Soundtracking: The Oscar Performances | Main | Red Carpet: Best Actresses Hug It Out »
Tuesday
Mar062018

The Oscars were gay and Latino, just like I am

by Jorge Molina

A couple of months ago I wrote a piece for this site about feeling seen, in a way I hadn't before, onscreen. Coco and Call Me by Your Name perfectly captured two different parts of my identity. Fast forward to Sunday’s 90th Academy Awards. Both of those movies deservedly won statues. More surprisingly a never ending parade of queer and Latino moments made me feel, yet again, that someone like myself has a place in the biggest stage in the world...

Figure skater Adam Rippon wears a leather harness on the red carpet, bringing an object of deep gay fetishistic meaning into a room where the phrase “Who are you wearing?” was originated. 

Eiza González, even with her heavily Americanized accent, presents an award with Ansel Elgort. But for me she will always be Lola, the star of the Mexican pre-teen telenovelas that I would religiously watch after school every day.

Eugenio Derbez, considered one of the best comics in Mexico and director of the highest-grossing Spanish-language film in the U.S., presents the Best Original Song performance from Coco. Gael García Bernal sings through guitar strings, as the stage opens and Miguel and Natalia LaFourcade (whose songs colored my middle school years) perform a bilingual version of “Remember Me” as traditional Oaxacan dancers explode in color behind them. Day of the Dead imagery paints the Dolby Theater. My heart soars.

Rita Moreno, wearing the same dress she wore in 1962 when she became the first Latina to win an Oscar, dances her way to present Best Foreign Language Film. The award goes to Chile’s A Fantastic Woman, a film lead by a trans woman that puts her narrative in the center. It’s the first moment of the night where queerness and Latino-ness crossed paths. It won’t be the last.

The cast of Star Wars comes on stage to present Best Animated Feature. As Oscar Isaac, of Guatemalan descent, reads Coco as the winner, he shouts “Viva Latinoamerica.” The team behind the movie, which include an all-Latino voice cast, walk to the mic. Producer Darla K. Anderson thanks her wife. Co-director Adrian Molina thanks his husband. Lee Unkrich thanks Mexico for being an inspiration. I try to take in that a gay Latino in ons the Oscar stage for a movie that celebrates his home country, and he got to thank his same-sex partner. I’m still trying to take it in. 

Daniela Vega returns to stage. After asking everyone in the room to feel the love around them, she introduces Sufjan Steven’s performance of “Mystery of Love”, nominee from Call Me by Your Name. Gay and Latino combine once more.

Human ray of light Gina Rodriguez presents an award with human snack Tom Holland.

Salma Hayek walks on stage alongside Ashley Judd and Annabella Sciorra to present a special segment devoted to diversity in film, and the Time’s Up movement. I am reminded that one of the many faces of this groundbreaking moment is arguably the most famous Mexican woman on the planet.

Lin-Manuel Miranda presents Best Original Song to Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who wrote “Remember Me” from Coco. The animated movie about Dia de los Muertos now has two Oscars.

Emma Stone presents Best Director to the frontrunner of the night, Guillermo del Toro. With this win, the Best Director trophy has gone to a Mexican director four out of the last five years. Del Toro is the last of the friends who dubbed themselves "the Three Amigos" (del Toro,  Iñárritu, and Cuarón) to get one. They were all nominated for the 2006 Oscars, but none of them won. Today, all three have Oscars, and their films have won a combined 25 statues.

Finally, the most open Best Picture competition in recent memory race ends with The Shape of Water taking home the gold. Del Toro gets on stage again. He dedicates this award to outsiders, to people that dare to dream about monsters, to people that want to make movies.

“Everyone that is dreaming of using fantasy to tell the stories about things that are real in the world today, you can do it. This is the door. Kick it open and come in.”
- Guillermo del Toro

I am a queer Latino man. Not only has there always been a door in front of people like me (queer people, Latinx people) to cross over mainstream entertainment. But personally, there has been a bigger, thicker door in between those two parts of myself. Last night, I saw them intermingle. I saw Rita Moreno hand an award to Daniela Vega. I saw Daniela Vega introduce a queer-themed anthem. I saw a Mexican director thank his husband, and another Mexican director thank his monsters, and another director thank Mexico.

Not only were they existing in peace, they were being celebrated. That was the door. They kicked it open. I’m coming in.

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Reader Comments (30)

Thanks for this beautiful piece.

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMikey67

Great Piece!

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

I loved this piece. One of the best articles this site has produced, and that's saying a lot. Thank you, Jorge!

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

This got me emotional. Beautifully written.

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterV.

I got teary eyed reading this! Thanks for sharing.

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBushwick

Oscar Isaac is also of Cuban descent

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Wait, I thought Oscar Isaac is part Guatemalan.

March 6, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

So, who is the bearded gentleman in the "Coco" winning photo? Um, it's for clarification purposes....

My friend's Latina girlfriend, who came in from work about 2/3 through the show, was thrilled hearing the winners, and was so excited when Guillermo won.

I just watched "Coco" this past weekend, too, and it was virbrant and wonderful and made me miss my Caucasian Mid West WASPy family. Loved it!

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Great piece! Just shared it

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCristhian

Great article! Thanks, Jorge.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

I really enjoyed reading this. And although I am not LGBTQI or hispanic, I definitely loved the positive messages the oscars delivered during the telecast. And of course as a woman, it was great to also see a lot of pro-female messages.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

Biggest stage in the world...lowest ratings ever.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterFadhil

Great post! US media, including film, is very bad about inclusion especially of Latinx identities. Think of all of the winners that had NOTHING to do with Hollywood’s go-to trope of drug cartels. No, these winners were in Director, song, picture; etc. representing films that were children’s animated adventures, monster movies, or queer. Much to celebrate.

It’s a shame that someone (bot?) found it necessary to point out the low ratings in response to THIS post. It draws a false (aka trumpian) equivalency between the landmark diversity of the ceremony and the ratings. No one knows what the ceremony will look like in terms of winners, speeches, etc. across the night until it’s over. The ratings are more than likely a result of 1) the largest Hollywood scandal in sometime involving the systematic ill-treatment of women 2) the knowledge that #1 would inspire a lot of pro-women politicking, which nearly half of the country (sadly) resents and 3) the predictable nature of the acting winners without much enthusiasm behind them. The “finally!” campaigns for Oldman and Rockwell lacked Leo-level fervor to make predictability a good thing. In fact, there was something very divisive about all of the acting winners or their movies.

Again, thanks for this great post.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

Jorge, I love you!

March 7, 2018 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

A wonderful article!

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

ok now this brought a tear or two to my eye...

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCharles O

Such a fantastic post, Jorge. Representation in the arts is so important!

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Terrific! Thank you for sharing, Jorge.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBGK

Oscar Isaacs's mother is Guatemalan and his father is Cuban.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Just amazing. Thank you.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Lovely. Thanks for writing this.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

As someone who is also gay and latino, I really loved this post. Thank you for writing it.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian Garcia

This is the story of the night -- the strong presence of Latinx and queer voices should have made headlines everywhere. The vilification of Mexico continues from Republicans, who have abandoned Puerto Rico and continued their attack on LGBTQIA communities. Gracias, Jorge, for writing it so beautifully.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

EH.

Only counts if it sticks.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterManny

This is awesome Jorge.

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

from a gay Latino living in Sydney, this was an awesome and perfectly expressed post :)

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterces

This piece makes me so happy and hopeful for the future of Hollywood and all creatives who have a story they wish to share <3

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJuliette

Hermoso!

March 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPablo

For best speech, I present you with this Oscar....

March 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterIshmael

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