73rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards wield few LGBTQ winners but several queer moments on stage

By Jeremy Blacklow, Director of Entertainment Media GLAAD.org  | September 19, 2021

The 73rd Annual Emmy Awards took place Sunday night in downtown Los Angeles and although The Crown and Ted Lasso dominated in the drama and comedy categories respectively, the LGBTQ-inclusive series Hacks had a very strong night.

The wins for Hacks were led by Jean Smart’s win for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. The HBO Max series also took home the Emmys for writing and directing for a comedy series. 

Bowen Yang, nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Saturday Night Live, presented the award to Smart. 

RuPaul’s Drag Race won the Emmy for Reality Competition Series. Mama Ru was joined on stage by Season 13 winner Symone, along with Top 4 runner-up Gottmik, and judge Michelle Visage. Ru shared a message with young queer people from the stage saying, “You have a tribe that’s waiting for you.” With Sunday’s win, RuPaul Charles, who is also an executive producer on Drag Racenow holds the record for the person of color with the most Primetime Emmy awards in history. RuPaul was previously tied with cinematographer Donald A. Morgan who has 10 Emmy wins. With six total wins this year, RuPaul’s Drag Race remaining the most awarded unscripted Competition show in Emmys “herstory.”

However, the Primetime Emmys suffered a significant diversity problem this year, with all major acting awards going to white actors. While the guest acting categories at last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys fared a bit better, with Saturday Night Live hosts Dave Chappelle and Maya Rudolph winning in comedy, and Lovecraft Country’s Courtney B. Vance winning for guest actor in a drama, #EmmysSoWhite was trending on Sunday. Along with RuPaul, Michaela Coel’s win for writing in a drama series (for her GLAAD Media Award winning HBO Max series I May Destroy You) was one of the rare wins for a person of color at the Primetime Emmys. (and her speech was a highlight of the evening)

Additional LGBTQ-inclusive winners included out actor Jonathan Groff, who was part of the team from Disney+’s Hamilton, which won the Emmy for Best Variety Special. Ewan McGregor (who does not identify as part of the LGBTQ community) won for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited on Anthology Series or Movie for playing gay fashion designer Halston in the self-titled Netflx series.

Despite its huge impact in its final season – and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez’s history making nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series – Pose didn’t win any awards at the Primetime Emmys for its final season. Pose won three awards the weekend before, however, at the Creative Arts Emmys. 

Billy Porter and Rodriguez dazzled on stage together when they presented the category for Supporting Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Movie. (which went to Julianne Nicholson for Mare of Easttown)

Dan Levy and his father, Eugene Levy, along with Schitt’s Creek co-stars Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy, stole the show comedically when they presented the awards for writing and directing in comedy. (which both went to Hacks)

Prior to announcing the nominees for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Kerry Washington paid special tribute to Michael K. Williams, who died earlier this month. Williams was also the last person featured in the In Memoriam section. Williams played iconic queer roles in The WireLovecraft Country, and Hap and Leonard.

Backstage in the Emmys media room, GLAAD Director of Entertainment Research and Analysis Megan Townsend asked the Hacks writers about queer representation on the show. “A lot of us are allies or are part of the LGBTQIA+ community ourselves, so we’re just writing characters authentic to the people we know,” said Lucia Aniello, who won two Emmys. Both Smart and the Hacks writing team also shouted out bi actress Hannah Einbinder, who plays Ava, the bi co-lead of the series, as being key in bringing authenticity and even more depth to her character.

In one of the best red carpet moments of the night, non-binary actor Carl Clemons-Hopkins, who was nominated for Supporting Actor for a Comedy Series for Hacks, wore a dress to the ceremony representing the non-binary flag colors.