A Look at the Queer Stars at the Met Gala: What They Wore and Why

Photo Credit: MET Gala

By Anthony Allen Ramos, Head of Talent By GLAAD.org | September 14, 2021

The MET Gala, commonly called “Fashion’s Biggest Night,” finally returned on September 13 after many postponements due to COVID-19. The gala welcomed its traditional star-studded guest list, including many, out and proud LGBTQ celebrities who turned out in bold style and used the opportunity to bring important conversations about the LGBTQ community to the forefront.

The event was in celebration of the Costume Institute’s latest exhibition, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” which debuts in the Anna Wintour Costume Center on September 18th.

On the red carpet, the queer stars embodied the theme of American style, from flashy, star-spangled ensembles (Megan Rapinoe), to nods to queer Americana history (Dan Levy), and then the just classic cool (Elliot Page). 

Check out some of the queer highlights from the MET Gala red carpet below:

Lil Nas X in custom Atelier Versace

After taking home Video of the Year at the MTV VMA’s the night prior, Lil Nas X made his Met Gala red carpet debut in another custom creation from Donatella Versace. Similar to when Lady Gaga peeled back the layers of her 2019 Met Gala Look, Lil Nas X wore three looks for the grand occasion. For the first look, he went regal and wore a golden cape with ornate detailed beading. After dropping the cape, he then revealed look number two, a golden suit of armor ala C3PO. For the grand finale, he sashayed down the carpet in a bedazzled bodysuit in Versace’s iconic print. The singer described his look to Vogue as a “coming out of his shell” like he did when he first burst onto the music scene.

Dan Levy in custom Loewe

The Schitt’s Creek funnyman wore a custom creation from Loewe that featured a depiction of two men kissing across his chest.

The star shared on Instagram, “We wanted to celebrate queer love and visibility — acknowledging how hard artists like Wojnarovicz had to fight, while also presenting the imagery in a way that offered a hopeful message.” He added, “Tonight, we’re celebrating the resilience, the love, and the joy of the community while honoring a crucial American voice that was taken from us too soon.” David Wojnarowicz is the late American artist who died from AIDS in 1992.

Megan Rapinoe in custom Sergio Hudson

The soccer star took the theme to heart and chose a custon red, white and blue creation from designer Sergio Hudon. Her coordinating clutch is emblazoned with the words “In Gay We Trust.”

Elliot Page in Balenciaga

The actor went for classic, cool in a Balenciaga suit and chunky sneakers.  This was his first major red carpet appearance after publicly coming out as transgender in December of last year. 

Nikke de Jager in Edwin Oudshoorn

The YouTube creator, who is known as NikkieTutorials, used her MET gala red carpet moment to pay tribute to queer activist Marsha P. Johnson, incorporating a sash with her Edwin Oudshoorn gown with the inscription “pay it no mind,” which was a homage to a famous quote from Johnson.

Mj Rodriguez in Thom Browne

The Emmy nominee hit the MET Gala carpet in a creation from Thom Browne and she told InStyle she wanted to make turn the occasion into a time to reflect. “Now is the time to give people, obviously, homage and bits of nostalgia, happiness and joy, but also something that’s a conscious thought towards what American style looks like and what the person inside of the fashion can bring to it as well,” says Rodriguez. “It gives me a true understanding of what various culture identities look like, and if that’s the biggest part about coming to the Met Gala and really owning up to the thing that we got. I know Thom Browne is going to execute that.”

Kim Petras in Collina Strada

Another queer star making their MET Gala red carpet debut was Kim Petras who channeled her inner equestrienne for the occasion in a Collina Strada creation. The gown featured a sculpted horse head on the bodice and then a large, floral skirt. She told red carpet host Illana Glazer that she grew up riding horses and was representing “all horse girls and horse humans here” with her outfit, adding that it took two weeks to make the gown.

Cara Delevingne in Christian Dior

The model and actress was one of the many stars who used the red carpet to make a bold statement with fashion. Her Dior creation featured the words “Peg the Patriarchy” across the vest. Cara told Vogue, “It’s about women empowerment… It’s a bit like stick it to the man.” She said she was inspired by female empowerment and sexuality, because highlighting individuality is what the night is all about.

Valentina Sampaio in Iris Van Herpen

Brazilian supermodel Valentina Sampaio stunned at the MET Gala in Iris Van Herpen and with her advocacy off the carpet. As she took the red carpet, Sampaio also premiered a short film featuring a cast of trans actors and trans youth. The film, written and directed by Branislav Jankic and Jesse Ball, and produced by Goran Macura, features Sampaio reciting names of trans lives lost to anti-trans hate violence in the United States this year. The dress that forms on her body during the film symbolizes and memorializes these lives. The CGI version of the dress, designed by digital artist NERI [Gia Djahaia] was also put on auction as a NFT. Sampaio, with her partners at The Lions Management, blockchain company LUKSO, proceeds benefiting the Ali Forney Center, Pride Live, and GLAAD.

Ben Platt in Christian Cowan

Dear Evan Hansen star Ben Platt went for a ’70s-inspired denim look from Christian Cowan, but it was his manicure who many took notice of, which he seemed proud to show off.  His oval shaped nails featured white and varying shades of blue in intricate patterns.

Janet Mock in Valentino FW21 Couture

The producer, writer and director once again proved that she is The Valentino Girl! 

Janet and her stylist interpreted the theme, American fashion, by focusing on classic shapes and inspirations of old Hollywood. Mock has said that she has found inspiration in entertainers who have paved the way for black women like Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge.

Frank Ocean in Prada

The R&B star wore a black Prada sports jacket and trousers, but it was his plus one for the event that really got attention.  Ocean posed for photos while holding a green-faced animatronic baby.  Ocean’s new independent American luxury brand Homer recently partnered with Prada on a collection.

Other LGBTQ superstars who attnded the event included Tom Daley in Moschino, Amandla Stenberg in Thom Browne, Ariana DeBose in Michael Kors SS22 RTW, Jordan Roth in XXX, Hunter Schafer in Prada, Indya Moore in Saint Laurent, RuPaul’s Drag Race Winner Symone in Moschino, Leyna Bloom in Prabal Gurung, Troye Sivan in Altu, among others.