The queerest moments from the 2021 Emmy Awards

Bowen Yang’s shoes did a lot of heavy lifting Sunday night in Los Angeles

When it comes to big gay energy, the Emmys are no Tony Awards, but there were high hopes the show would beat out this year’s Oscars in terms of general queerness, especially in the wake of Schitt’s Creek’s dominant run last year.

Heading into the 2021 show, Mj Rodriguez was the first trans woman to ever be nominated in a lead acting category, for her stunning turn in the final season of Pose. Bowen Yang broke ground with his nomination for Saturday Night Live. Billy Porter was there! Emma Corinn looked hot and mysterious and kind of like the Babadook. 

The makings of a very queer Emmys were at our fingertips. 

But in reality, Sunday night’s telecast was… admittedly disappointing. The 2021 Emmy Awards, hosted from a tent that was ostensibly outside in the same way those covered patios with walls and ceiling and heaters are, the Emmys were honestly boring. Host Cedric the Entertainer was fine, and the awards themselves were mostly fine. 

But at every moment the awards could have been queer, they went straight, with near sweeps from The Crown in the drama category and Ted Lasso in the comedy category, and with other big awards going to Mare of Easttown and The Queen’s Gambit. Ewan MacGregor won Best Actor in a Miniseries for playing gay in Halston, a performance that was questionable all the way through. And, notably, not a single actor of colour won a major award. 

Amid the disappointment, some queer moments shone through. Here are our highlights from the 2021 Emmy Awards. 

Best dressed

While they may not have won all of the awards, the queers turned it up on the red carpet. 

The Crown’s Emma Corinn came dressed as a beautiful nightmare. 

Billy Porter did Billy Porter things.

While their owner missed out on the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy win for his work on Saturday Night Live, Bowen Yang’s shoes honestly deserve their own award. 

Nailed It! host Nicole Byer was a vision in purple.

And as an added bonus, she gave us the perfect reaction GIF of the Emmys.

Pose’s Mj Rodriguez stunned in robin’s egg blue.

And of course Holland Taylor was very horny for longtime partner Sarah Paulson.

Every awards show, we expect nothing less than queer folks dominating the red carpet, and they delivered. 

Karamo brings cringe to the red carpet

When it comes to Queer Eye’s fab five, Karamo Brown may face the most mockery (outside of Antoni’s avocado toast). What he actually does on the show is, well, a question. From my casual viewing of the program, he wears hats and doles out advice for “loving yourself.” 

And that’s fine and dandy, but E! brought the question that is Karamo to the Emmys red carpet, to mixed results.

Do we need Karamo on the red carpet? No. Was his bumbling at least a bit entertaining? I’ll admit, yes. 

Bowen Yang gives Jean Smart an award

Jean Smart may be married to a man, but she is widely beloved by the LGBTQ2S+ community. As Xtra’s own Thomas and Tranna said earlier this summer, gay Twitter should basically be renamed “Jean Smart Twitter”—especially since Hacks came out earlier this year.

So when Smart not only won the Emmy for Lead Actress in a Comedy for Hacks, but also happened to have that Emmy announced by beloved queer king Yang… well, that’s a moment baby. 

Even GLAAD agreed.

Yang and Smart memorably were paired for one of those “actor on actor” interviews earlier this year, which honestly makes the moment (and Yang’s delighted “yay!” upon reading the winner) even more enjoyable.

And Hacks is super queer, so definitely go check it out! 

RuPaul makes history

With a win for Best Reality Competition Series for RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Best Reality Competition Host earlier this week, RuPaul Charles became the most Emmy-awarded person of colour in history, with 11 total.

“To all of our lovely children on our show from around the world. You know, they are so gracious to tell their stories of courage and how to navigate this difficult life, even more difficult today. This is for you,” Charles said during his acceptance speech. “And for the kids out there watching: you have a tribe that is waiting for you. We are waiting for you, baby: come on to Mama Ru. Thank you so much.”

Senior editor Mel Woods is an English-speaking Vancouver-based writer and audio producer and a former associate editor with HuffPost Canada. A proud prairie queer and ranch dressing expert, their work has also appeared in Vice, Slate, the Tyee, the CBC, the Globe and Mail and the Walrus.

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