Kristen Stewart & Ariana DeBose Are First Openly Queer Performers Nominated For Acting Oscars In 20 Years

The Academy Awards have nominated an openly queer actor -- two, in fact! -- giving a nod to Kristen Stewart for 'Spencer' and Ariana DeBose for 'West Side Story.'

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Image Credit: Everett

As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed the nominees for the 2022 Oscars on Tuesday (Feb. 8), the LGBTQ+ community was greeted with some good news: for the first time since Sir Ian McKellen was nominated in 2002 for Best Supporting Actor in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, an openly queer-identifying performer was nominated in an action role. Actually, two members of the Alphabet Mafia were nominated Tuesday morning: Ariana DeBose, who scored a Best Supporting Actress nod for her role of Anita in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of West Side Story; and Kristen Stewart, who was nominated for Best Lead Actress for her turn as Princess Diana in the historical fiction drama, Spencer.

Update 1:30 pm EST: “WOW I wish [Spencer director Pablo Larraín] and I were in the same country today,” Kristen Stewart told Entertainment Tonight in a statement. “I am speechless and humbled this morning. I am bowled over by this. I never thought in a thousand years I’d be in the company of these four incredible women. I would pay to make movies. I would make them if it was illegal. This is dream state, to share on this level. I am so touched and I am so grateful for the work that was generated on this film. I’m so proud to be a part of our film community. I am SO happy. It is a good day.”

“WHAT JUST HAPPENED!?!?” Adriana, 31, tweeted shortly after the nominations were announced, along with a pair of pictures. The Golden Globe winner looked beside herself in the first pic, not believing that she was up for an Oscar. The second photo showed her and her friend basking in the joy of the recognition. “Once I compose myself, I’ll have real words to say,” she wrote. “But until then…” She ended her tweet with a series of emojis that helped register her shock.

“This year’s Oscar nominations for performances from queer actors including Ariana DeBose and Kristen Stewart, as well for powerful LGBTQ stories in films like West Side StoryFlee, and The Mitchells vs. The Machines, are clear reminders of the opportunities that exist with audiences and critics when Hollywood invests in queer talent and tells diverse stories in bold and original ways,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, on this year’s nominations. “With several worthy LGBTQ stories, actors, and creators absent from this year’s list, the industry and Academy should prioritize investing in and recognizing creators and stories from LGBTQ and other marginalized communities that audiences both crave and connect with.”

Sir Ian, 82, became the first openly gay actor to be nominated for an Oscar when he was up for Best Actor in a Leading Role for 1998’s Gods and Monsters. After failing to take home the Academy Award in 2002 – he lost to Jim Broadbent, who won for his role in Iris – only two queer-identifying actors have been nominated for Academy Awards, according to Vanity Fair: Angelina Jolie, who was nominated for Best Actress in 2009 for Changeling; and Lady Gaga, who was nominated for Best Actress for 2019’s A Star Is Born. Both Gaga and Angie are bisexual. (It should be noted that the idea that their bisexuality “isn’t gay enough” to count is a facet of bisexual erasure, and Health states that such attitudes are a health threat to those who identify as such.)

(Everett)

“I am a Black-identifying biracial queer Afro-Latina. I say this frequently, and some people don’t really get it, but most people do…. I am America,” Ariana told Out in 2021. “I am damn near a member of just about every marginalized community. That is not a red badge of courage, because I have opportunity.” She also spoke proudly of her role as Alyssa in Netflix’s adaptation of The Prom. “Alyssa was very important to me because I still believe we’ve never really seen a young, Black-presenting, queer girl, whether she’s ready to come out as lesbian, gay, or otherwise. I did not have that growing up,” she said. Despite how much the times have changed, she still clashes with stereotypes over her orientation.

“Suddenly, if you say, ‘I’m queer. I just love humans,’ or ‘Yeah, I really love the ladies,’ [people in the entertainment industry are] like, ‘Cool, cool. So you must be butch. You must wear flannel. And you must be a steelworker.’ That drives me crazy,” she told Out.

(Everett)

Kristen Stewart’s sexuality has been a topic of conversation since she dated Robert Pattinson. She famously dissed Donald Trump’s obsession with her when hosting Saturday Night Live in 2017. “If you didn’t like me then, you’re really not going to like me now,” she said, “because I’m hosting SNL, and I’m like, so gay, dude.” That year, she spoke about the fluidity of her sexuality to The Guardian while defending bisexuality. “You’re not confused if you’re bisexual. It’s not confusing at all. For me, it’s quite the opposite.”

She was involved with visual effects artist Alicia Cargile from 2013 to 2016, model Stella Maxwell from 2016 to 2018, and recently, with screenwriter Dylan Meyer. In 2021, Kristen revealed that she and Dylan were engaged.

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