Outwardly, 2014 seems like a good year for LGBT characters at the Golden Globes. Modern Family got yet another nod, as did Behind the Candelabra, as did Jared Leto's performance in Dallas Buyers Club. But while the Globes have historically awarded performances for actors playing LGBTQ characters, the majority of those actors have been straight. In fact, of all the shows and movies that have been nominated for a Golden Globe in the past four years (Glee, Modern Family, Beginners, The Kids Are All Right, Albert Nobbs, Political Animals, Bernie, American Horror Story, A Single Man), only three of those had gay characters played by gay actors: Chris Colfer in Glee, Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Modern Family, and Zachary Quinto in American Horror Story: Murder House.
Part of this is a supply and demand issue. Hollywood isn't exactly clamoring to make movies and television shows starring LGBTQ characters. Sure, things may have changed a lot in the past five years, but the default perspective for television and movies is still white, straight, and male. For every Dallas Buyers Club, there's still about ten Rushes. So it's difficult to nominate a show or movie with any gay characters at all, especially one with a LGBTQ character played by an LGBTQ actor — especially when it's much harder for out and proud actors to get roles in Hollywood.
But that doesn't mean the Globes escape all the blame. The awards show has seriously overlooked some more than deserving performances from LGBTQ actors drawing from their own experiences. This year's glaring omission was Laverne Cox's performance in Orange Is the New Black , who carried some serious emotional heft in the episode "Lesbian Request Denied."
And this is not the first time an LGBTQ actor has been overlooked. It's no secret that the Globes voters positively drool over Modern Family. But while the straight Eric Stonestreet has been nominated for his work in the show three times, his partner in the show, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, is actually gay yet hasn't been nominated once. The awards show also overlooked the impeccable work of Sarah Paulson in the second season of American Horror Story, even though her work was equally as deserving as straight co-star Jessica Lange's, who's been nominated twice for her roles in the show.
It may seem like a small issue to take with the awards show, but it's important in so many ways. It's hard for many LGBTQ actors and actresses to get roles at all, so a Globe nomination is a vote of confidence for actors and actresses who are out and proud. And while playing an LGBTQ character may be a great way for straight actors and actresses to stretch themselves creatively, having an LGBTQ actor or actress in the role allows them to draw upon their actual experience and create a deeper, more real performance. Not to mention that many LGBTQ are not afforded the same flexibility to be able to "play straight" once they're out of the closet. But it's important for oppressed groups of people to be able to represent themselves and tell their own stories, not to mention that it creates a much richer work of art.
Why wouldn't we want to award that?