There were plenty of surprises and expectations met during tonight’s 74th Emmys ceremony which was on the fairly low side when it came to LGBTQ representation – but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any big wins for the community.
One of the biggest winners of the night was HBO’s conversation-starter and divisive series The White Lotus from Mike White, who won Emmys for Outstanding Directing, Writing as well as the top prize of Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series or Movie. During his speech he reminisced about his time on Amazing Race, which he was on with his father, Mel White who came out as gay in 1994 after writing for the Christian right. As White accepted one of his trophies he was nearly brought to tears as he talked about his ailing father.
The White Lotus scored another win when Murray Bartlett took the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor, Limited Series for his amazing and wildly committed performance as Armond. Bartlett made sure to thank his mom in Australia for “the most wonderful foundation of unconditional love and inspiring me to believe that we can all do that for each other.”
He turned to Mike White in the audience and thanked him for one of the most amazing experiences. He also thanked his fellow White Lotus cast mates and team as well as HBO big wigs like Casey Bloys, Francesca Orsi, and Nora Skinner. Bartlett went on to express his gratitude for everyone in his life: “Thank you to my family and friends for all your love and support over the years, especially Ahmed, you’re a prince. To my P-Town family, I love you. And to my partner, Matt. Thank you for being my sanctuary.”
Legend Jennifer Coolidge, talked about her luxurious lavender bath that made her swell and unable to fit into her dress well as she accepted her Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role as the flighty Tanya, who will return for season 2.
One of the most memorable moments of the night is when the legendary Sheryl Lee Ralph won Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy for her role as the no-nonsense Barbara Howard on the critically acclaimed Abbott Elementary. She is one of two Black women to ever win the category. Jackée Harry won the award in 1987 for 227.
The Tony Award-winning Dreamgirl actress relished the moment and captivated the audience with a rendition of “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves, whose lyrics illustrated the impact of the moment: “I am an endangered species / But I sing no victim’s song / I am a woman I am an artist / And I know where my voice belongs.”
After belting out the tune, she said: “To anyone who has ever, ever had a dream and thought your dream wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t come true, I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like.”
Ralph continued, “This is what striving looks like. And don’t you ever, ever give up on you. Because if you get a Quinta Brunson in your corner, if you get a husband like mine in your corner, if you get children like mine in your corner, and if you get friends like everybody who voted for me, cheered for me, loved me… thank you!”
Draped in a gigantic white fur coat, Jerrod Carmichael seemed stunned and speechless when he accepted his first Emmy for his very personal HBO comedy special Rothaniel, in which he came out.
“I wanted to win, I’m happy I won. Thank you very much,” said Carmichael when accepting his award. “I made something that was of great personal consequence to me, and this definitely contributes to the meaning of it. I’m not a sore winner, but I’m going to go home because I can’t top this right now.”
In a surprise twist, RuPaul’s Drag Race Emmy winning streak for Outstanding Competition Program was ended by Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls. The new reality competition added its third trophy to its mantel, previously winning Outstanding Directing for Reality Program and Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured Reality or Competition Program at the Creative Arts Emmys.
“The trophy is nice, but my emotion is for these people who are on the stage with me. The stories that they shared are not that unique that just don’t get the platform. Let’s tell more stories,” said Lizzo during her acceptance speech. “When I was a little girl, all I wanted to see was me in the media. Someone fat like me, black like me, beautiful like me. If I could go back and little Lizzo something, I’d be like, you’re going to see that person, but bitch it’s going to have to be you. This is for my big girls.”
That’s not to say that RuPaul’s Drag Race didn’t walk away a winner. Season 14 of the juggernaut franchise was nominated for eight Emmys this year, and the show won for Outstanding Production Design for a Variety, Reality or Competition Series and Outstanding Host for RuPaul Charles. This marks his seventh Emmy win in the category. Charles, who has been slaying the category since 2016, is the winningest Black artist in Emmy history.
Sarah Paulson and Shonda Rhimes honored the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media with the Governor’s Award for its work in the DEI space. The institute’s data-driven research, education, and advocacy have influenced content creators to reimagine the media landscape to reflect the world we live in. They analyze representations of the six major marginalized identities on screen: women; people of color; LGBTQIA+ individuals; people with disabilities; older persons (50+); and large-bodied individuals in global Film, Television, Advertising, and Gaming.
Geena Davis herself and the organization’s president and CEO, Madeline Di Nonno took the stage to accept the award.
“Tonight, is about honoring the best in television, and as you know and as Lizzo knows, television can often directly impact how people see themselves and judge their value in the world,” said Davis. “In the time since I launched the institute, we’ve made a great deal of progress but there’s still more work to do.”
There may have not been much LGBTQ representation at this year’s Emmys, but there were many noteworthy wins. In addition to tonight’s wins, there were many Emmys won by members of the community including Colman Domingo for his role HBO’s Euphoria as well as Nathan Lane for Only Murders in the Building.
Other previously announced wins included Netflix’s Queer Eye winning its fifth Emmy in the Structured Reality Program category as well as HBO Max’s vogueing and ballroom competition Legendary, who won a juried award for Outstanding Makeup for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program while GLAAD award-winning HBO series We’re Here won for Outstanding Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Programming.