Making history

Billy Porter becomes first openly gay, black man to win Best Actor & more queer Emmy moments


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Billy Porter became the first openly gay, black man to win a Best Actor Emmy. His win came at the Television Academy’s 71st awards show, which took place at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Porter, who once again wowed the red carpet in an outfit designed by Michael Kors reportedly encrusted with 130k crystals and $55k of diamonds, won Best Actor in a Drama Series for his role in Pose. The win came a day after his 50th birthday.

“The category is love, y’all, love!” said Porter beginning his speech.

He continued by quoting another groundbreaking, gay African American.

“James Baldwin said ‘Took many years of vomiting up all the filth that I had been taught about myself, and halfway believed, before I could walk around this Earth like I had the right to be here’,” he said before adding, “I have the right, you have the right, we all have the right!”

Backstage, Porter – a Broadway veteran before his small screen success on Pose – told reporters he was grateful to have “lived long enough” to win as his “true, authentic self.”

Porter’s Emmy follows previous Tony and Grammy award wins.

Related: ‘Pose’ star Billy Porter on becoming a leading man: “I read these scripts and I just weep”

Porter’s award was not the only queer moment at last night’s show. British actor Ben Whishaw won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a limited series for his role in A Very British Scandal.

Accepting his award, Whishaw – also a regular as Q in the James Bond franchise – apologized for being hungover after his agent had taken him out for drinks. He thanked his husband, Mark Bradshaw, for “his love and support and for keeping me somewhat sane.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race won the Emmy for Best Competition Series. RuPaul – after kissing husband, Georges LeBar – and the rest of the show’s creative team took the stage to collect the award. The euphoric host of the show used the opportunity to encourage people to get political.

“Thanks for the academy for voting for us. But speaking of voting, go and register to vote! Go to — and vote! Register! We love you so much everybody.”

Related: Ben Whishaw gets very candid about his sexuality in rare and revealing new interview

Patricia Arquette won an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a limited series for her role in The Act. Accepting her award, Arquette made an impassioned speech for trans rights, recalling her late sister, Alexis Arquette, who died in 2016.

She said, “I lost my sister Alexis, and trans people are still being persecuted, and I’ve been mourning every day of my life, Alexis, and I will be the rest of my life for you until we change the world so trans people are not persecuted.”

“I just have to say I’m grateful to be working. I’m grateful at 50 to be getting the best parts of my life and that’s great. But in my heart, I’m so sad I lost my sister Alexis and that trans people are still being persecuted.

“I’m in mourning, Alexis, and I will be the rest of my life for you until we change the world, until trans people are not persecuted.

“And give them jobs, They’re human beings, let’s give them jobs, let’s get rid of this bias that we have everywhere.”

Related: Transgender Actress, Activist Alexis Arquette Dies At 47

Actress Laverne Cox was nominated for an award for her role in Orange Is The New Black. Although she didn’t win, she made her own statement at the show with her clutch bag.

It was emblazoned with a trans flag on one side and a rainbow flag on the other with the date October, 8 – the day the US Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on LGBTQ employment rights cases. Cox was accompanied by ACLU staff attorney, Chase Strangio.

The full Emmy award wins last night were as follows.

  • Outstanding drama series – Game Of Thrones
  • Outstanding comedy series – Fleabag
  • Outstanding limited series – Chernobyl
  • Lead actor in a drama series – Billy Porter (Pose)
  • Lead actress in a drama series – Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)
  • Lead actor in a comedy series – Bill Hader (Barry)
  • Lead actress in a comedy series – Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag)
  • Supporting actor in a comedy series – Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel)
  • Supporting actress in a comedy series – Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel)
  • Lead actor in a limited series or movie – Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us)
  • Lead actress in a limited series or movie – Michelle Williams (Fosse/Verdon)
  • Supporting actor in a limited series or movie – Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal)
  • Supporting actress in a limited series or movie – Patricia Arquette (The Act)
  • Outstanding reality competition series – RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • Outstanding variety talk series – Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
  • Outstanding variety sketch series – Saturday Night Live
  • Outstanding television movie – Bandersnatch (Black Mirror)
  • Directing for a comedy series – Harry Bradbeer (Fleabag)
  • Directing in a limited series or TV movie – Johan Renck (Chernobyl)
  • Directing for a drama series – Jason Bateman (Ozark)
  • Writing for a drama series – Jesse Armstrong (Succession)
  • Writing for a comedy series – Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag)
  • Writing for a limited series or TV movie – Craig Mazin (Chernobyl)