How Rachel Weisz captured hearts as the queer lead in two films nominated at this year's GLAAD Media Awards

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Image credit: Bleecker Street/Fox Searchlight

How Rachel Weisz captured hearts as the queer lead in two films nominated at this year's GLAAD Media Awards

May 2, 2019

Since the release of the films Disobedience and The Favourite, Rachel Weisz has become somewhat of an icon for queer women. In both films, each of which are nominated for Outstanding Film - Limited Release at the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, Weisz portrays one of the queer female leads. Both movies highlight important stories told in unique ways that make them significant in the history of LGBTQ media. Disobedience tells the story of queer women living within a conservative, tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community in London, and The Favourite tells the story of historically queer figures in 17th century England during the rule of Queen Anne.

Weisz’s affinity for being a gay icon actually goes as far back as 2009, after a newspaper poll labeled her a favorite amongst lesbian viewers. Weisz was delighted, and said in an interview: “I want to be a lesbian icon.” Ten years later, and her wish has come true as her GLAAD Media Award nominated-roles this year have secured her place as an icon within the Internet’s community of queer women. Numerous essays and articles have been written by queer women about their love for Weisz, with each spanning from humorous to serious in tone. Her thoughtful and funny interviews about her movies and the queerness of those movies have spurred countless memes, viral videos, and more. Weisz even contributed to the “gay rights!” meme by shouting the phrase at the BAFTA Awards red carpet:

Though her beauty and talent are definitely contributing factors in the internet’s newfound obsession with Weisz, it is her dedication to her roles as an LGBTQ ally, and the eloquence with which she speaks on the queer love stories in her movies, that have truly garnered her her position as a gay icon. For example, when profiled by the New York Times, Weisz gave a number of great quotes about her now-legendary sex scene with Rachel McAdams in Disobedience, the lesbian literature research she conducted in preparation for her roles, her determination to tell more stories about women, and more:

“I just thought, ‘Perfect: a relationship between two women where it has been a

friendship since childhood and there’s love and sexuality and yearning and longing and

things to do with freedom...I really enjoy all the thousands of movies I’ve seen about

men. I mean, there are some great masterpieces. But there’s just a dearth of ones about

women. I love women.”

As one can imagine, “‘I love women’ -Rachel Weisz,” made its rounds in the online LGBTQ community. She has also spoken about her queer roles in both Disobedience and The Favourite in interviews with GLAAD.

In an interview with Pride Source, Weisz gave a very specifically queer interview in which she answered questions about seeking out gay media sources to promote her queer films, the male gaze, the liberating quality of her sex scene with McAdams, and more. In response to a question asking if she could just produce queer stories for the rest of her career, Weisz replied enthusiastically, “Yes, please” and asked for recommendations. At the end of the interview, Weisz was asked how she would react if one her children came out to her as queer, and replied: “I’d be very happy for anyone I know and love to love whomever they want to love.”

Weisz has also spoken about what taking roles with realistic and positive representation has meant to her. She once said in an interview: “I think for young people to watch stories and see themselves represented, be they women or if a person is gay or a person of color....for people that have never been represented in central roles on screen, it's incredibly important.” According to numerous reports conducted by GLAAD, representation of minorities on screen is still very much an issue worth fighting for today and so Weisz’s words speak volumes.

Like Cate Blanchett before her, Weisz is joining the list of awards season-darlings who become gay icons through their queer indie hits. However, Weisz’s constant support and serious passion for her queer roles set her apart as a great ally for the LGBTQ+ community. Weisz’s movies, Disobedience and The Favourite are both nominated at this year’s GLAAD Media Awards. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and the issues that affect their lives.

The awards show in Los Angeles took place Thursday, March 28th at the Beverly Hilton and the awards show in New York City will take place on Saturday, May 4th at the New York Hilton Midtown.

Leah Shapiro is a GLAAD Communications & PR Intern and junior at Fordham University studying communications and culture. 

the voice and vision of a new generation