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How the Oscars are honoring queer history with Rustin and Nyad according to Academy CEO Bill Kramer

Author: Tracy E. Gilchrist

Hollywood’s biggest night is here, and regardless of who walks away with gold statues on Sunday, the Oscars have already made LGBTQ+ history this year. At a time when stories of Black and queer history are being erased by conservatives, storytelling is one way to keep and preserve history. The CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Bill Kramer, a gay man, nods to two films nominated at the 96th Academy Awards that are already a part of history.

Nyad and Rustin. These are stories about queer icons that, I have to say, many people in the queer community did not know about. I’ve had conversations with so many members of our community who did not know about Rustin,” Kramer tells the Advocate Channel. “I love that they’re being celebrated at the Oscars. I love that it’s now part of our Academy history, it will be reflected in our museum. Our role is to tell these stories, to champion these stories. And it’s what we’re thrilled to do.”

Rustin, about Bayard Rustin, the Black gay architect of the 1962 March on Washington stars Colman Domingo in the titular role. Earlier this year, Out magazine featured the veteran actor on its cover, dubbing him the “first Black gay movie star.” Meanwhile, beloved double Oscar winner Jodie Foster plays Bonnie Stoll in Nyad, Diana Nyad’s lesbian best friend and coach. With Domingo nominated for Best Actor for Rustin and Foster nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Nyad, it marks the first time two queer actors are nominated in queer roles, and they’re both nominated in films about historical figures.

“A few things that thrill me, you know, having two queer performers, Colman and Jodie playing queer, being nominated. It’s amazing progress for our industry. And it happened in a very, I think, seamless way,” Kramer says. “I think it shows great progress and it’s just one of the many moments of celebration both leading up to the show and the night of the show that we’re really excited [about].”

Related: Out TCM host Dave Karger dives into 50 Oscar winners’ big nights in new book

A former city planner with the MTA in New York, and a fundraiser for Sundance, Kramer was hired early on to fundraise for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, which opened in the fall of 2021. He was the director of the museum from its launch until his promotion to CEO of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in June of 2022.

Since the Academy was called out for its all-white roster of acting nominees in 2016, it’s worked to diversify its membership and honor the work and stories of marginalized communities. That ethos is reflected in this year’s nominees including nominations for Lily Gladstone, who could make history as the first Indigenous woman to win the Best Actress prize for Killers of the Flower Moon, and across other categories with nods for American Fiction, Rustin, and The Color Purple.

“I think it’s a reflection of how our membership is diversifying [as] our members nominate and vote on the Oscars. And we’re becoming [more] diverse. When I say diverse, I also mean global, not just Hollywood-centric. That’s been happening over the last several years. And in the past couple of years, you’ve really seen that reflected in the nominations. More international films are being nominated in categories beyond Best International Feature Film,” Kramer says.

“The Oscars are really we work 365 days a year, right? We have the biggest film museum in the world, the biggest film-related collection in the world, 23 million items, we’re preserving our global film history,” he adds. “That’s great for everybody. It’s great for young artists who want to be inspired. It’s great for people from marginalized communities or communities that have traditionally been underrepresented in our film industry to say, Oh, I can do this. This is for me. And that’s really what we want to see on the show. And in all of our work.”

Watch the full interview with Kramer and the Advocate Channel below to find out more about this year’s ceremony.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Tracy E. Gilchrist

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