The 2019 nominations for the 71st Annual Emmy Awards have been announced, and they are the queerest ever. Tony Award-winner Billy Porter made history as the first openly gay Black man ever nominated for an Emmy.
Porter was recognized in the lead actor in a drama series category for his role as the iconic emcee Pray Tell in FX channel’s “Pose,” a show about ball culture and the AIDS pandemic in the 80s and 90s. “Pose” was also nominated for best drama series.
Porter told reporters, “My breath is taken away. I’m so thrilled. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Porter said, “I feel really blessed to have lived long enough to see this day, to see the world transform in this way, where our story gets to be told on this level with this kind of juice behind it, Ryan Murphy behind it. It’s really life-altering.”
Ryan Murphy is the show’s co-creator and executive producer. He is openly gay and one of the top showrunners in the industry.
None of the three trans actresses — Indya Moore (Angel), Mj Rodriguez (Blanca) and Dominique Jackson (Elektra) — were nominated for their work in the series, which has been lauded for its portrayal of trans women’s lives. “Pose,” which won a Peabody Award in May, made history when it debuted in June 2018 for the number of trans women actresses it employed, as well as for using trans women writers and directors, including Janet Mock.
GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis applauded the Television Academy for recognizing “Pose” and Porter, saying in part that it “sent a powerful message not only about LGBTQ representation, but diverse LGBTQ representation on television.”
There are more queer TV shows, hosts and actors in queer roles nominated for Emmys than in any prior year.
Jonathan Van Ness of “Queer Eye”
Other nominations with queer content were BBC’s “Killing Eve” and NBC’s “This Is Us,” both in the best drama series category. “Killing Eve” is a spy thriller whose two leads have an intense psycho-sexual relationship. Sandra Oh as the eponymous Eve and Jody Comer as the sociopathic assassin Villanelle were both nominated for lead actress in a drama.
Viola Davis, who stars as bisexual law professor Annalise Keating in ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” (set in Philadelphia), was also nominated in the category. Davis, a five-time nominee who has also won an Oscar and a Tony, is the first black actress to have won lead actress in a drama series.
Ron Cephas Jones, who plays a gay father in “This Is Us,” is nominated for best guest actor in a drama series.
Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”), the first out lesbian comedian on “SNL” who often does impressions of Trump cabinet members, is nominated for best supporting actress in a comedy series, a category she won in 2016 and 2017.
Trans actress Laverne Cox (“Orange Is the New Black”) and lesbian actress Cherry Jones (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) are both nominated for their stellar roles as guest actress in a drama series. Cox was previously nominated in 2014 for the same role. Jones won an Emmy in 2009 for her role in “24.” Along with the actors, “Veep,” “Schitt’s Creek,” “Russian Doll,” “Fleabag” and “The Good Place” — all with queer content — are among the shows vying for best comedy series.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1), which has won three consecutive Emmys since 2016, was nominated for best reality competition program. “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked” (VH1) was also nominated for best unstructured reality series, and RuPaul was nominated for host of a reality or competition program, along with Ellen DeGeneres (“Ellen’s Game Of Games”).
Netflix’s reboot of “Queer Eye” was nominated for best structured reality series.
Two Netflix specials featuring lesbian comedians, “Hannah Gadsby: Nanette” and “Wanda Sykes: Not Normal,” were nominated for variety special. Gadsby and Sykes were also each nominated in the Writing for a Variety Special category.
“Special,” a series about a gay man with cerebral palsy, was nominated for Short Form Comedy or Drama Series. The series is executive produced by openly gay actor Jim Parsons.
There are other nominations among the technical awards for “Pose,” “Special,” “RuPaul” and other series and specials with heavy LGBTQ content.
The Emmys will air September 22 on FOX.