89th Academy Awards: 'Moonlight' is first LGBTQ film to win Best Picture

The 89th Annual Academy Awards aired live from Hollywood tonight, and GLAAD Media Award nominee Moonlight took home three awards!

In a shocking moment, Moonlight picked up the Oscar in Best Picture after the presenters inititally read out the wrong film. Moonlight is the first LGBTQ-centric film to win the Best Picture Oscar.  The film follows a young man named Chiron living in a rough neighborhood of Miami in three acts from childhood to teen years to adulthood. Over this time, Chiron struggles with his own sexual identity, the concept of masculinity, and his feelings for his friend Kevin, all set against a challenging home life and bullying at school. Moonlight deftly balances telling a very intimate story about love, identity, family, and friendship with painting a picture of the larger experience of what it means to be a young, black, queer male. Moonlight is available to watch now on iTunes, Amazon, and on demand services.

"Congratulations to Moonlight on its well-deserved win for Best Picture. Film is our largest cultural export and must represent the full diversity of the people who make up this country. This sends a strong message to the film industry that it needs to embrace inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant," GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis tweeted.

Out story writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, who wrote the short play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue which inspired the film, and director/screenwriter Barry Jenkins won the Oscar in Best Adapted Screenplay. "This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non gender conforming who don't see themselves. We're trying to show you you and us, so thank you thank you this is for you," McCraney said. "All you people out there who feel like there's no mirror for you, that your live is not reflected, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back. And for the next four years, we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you," Jenkins added.

Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali took home the Oscar in Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Juan. This makes him the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. Ali also won the Screen Actors Guild Award in Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Rule and the NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for the role. Byron Howard, co-director of Zootopia, also thanked his husband from the stage while accepting for Best Animated Feature. Out songwriter Benj Pasek in Best Original Song for La La Land's "City of Stars."

Colleen Atwood (winner for Best Costume Design), Jaden Piner (Moonlight’s young Kevin), stylist and Fashion Police cohost Brad Goreski, and Sting (nominee and performer) and his wife Trudie Styler sported '&' lapel pins to show solidarity for those most vulnerable to discrimination in the current political climate. The ‘&’ pins, courtesy of GLAAD, represent the Together movement that seeks to unite marginalized communities to resist, persist and prevail against hateful and non-inclusive legislation, policy and rhetoric. Learn more about the ‘&’ at glaad.org/together now.


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Other stars also used their platform to call for unity in resistance. Mozart of the Jungle star Gael Garcia Bernal took a moment while he was on stage to call for unity. “Flesh and blood actors are migrant workers. We travel all over the world, we build families, we construct stories, we build life that cannot be divided. As a Mexican, as a Latin American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I’m against any form of wall that wants to separate us,” he said.

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who won the Oscar in Best Foreign-Language Film for The Salesman, chose not to attend the ceremony as a form of protest. In his absence, Anousheh Ansari (the first Iranian person to visit space) read a statement on his behalf. “My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.,” his statement read. “Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries, which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever.”

Congratulations to the winners!