The MTV Movie & TV Awards last night broke ground on several fronts when it came to LGBTQ representation. One of the night’s biggest moments came when Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome won “Best Kiss” for Moonlight. It may not sound like a big deal, but that particular award is entirely voted online by fans, which means that younger viewers voted for the first time for two queer African American characters to take home the win.
"This award is bigger than Jharrell and I, this represents more than a kiss,” Sanders said in his acceptance speech. “This is for those that feel like the others, the misfits -- This represents us.” Earlier this year, HRC honored Moonlight with the HRC Visionary Arts Award at the 2017 HRC Greater New York Gala.
The MTV awards produced another inspiring moment for LGBTQ inclusion when Asia Kate Dillon -- who is a non-binary performer -- presented the night’s first accolade for MTV’s first gender-neutral acting award. The new category and Asia Kate Dillon’s participation acknowledge the important role gender non-binary individuals play in our society, including in the arts. "Tonight we celebrate portrayals of the human experience, because the only distinction we should be making when it comes to awards is between each outstanding performance,” Dillon said during the opening of the show. Emma Watson won that award for best actor in her role in Beauty and the Beast, where she gave a heartwarming acceptance speech about MTV’s new award category.
"MTV's move to create a genderless award for acting will mean something different to everyone, but to me it indicates that acting is about the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes -- and that doesn't need to be separated into two different categories,” Watson said. “Empathy, and the ability to use your imagination, should have no limits.” Another big win for the LGBTQ community came when RuPaul won the Best Reality Competition award for RuPaul’s Drag Race.
The MTV Movie & TV Awards, which are typically filled with memorable performances, was also laced with touching and heartfelt moments of inclusion, diversity and acceptance. The show not only showcased the network's efforts to being more LGBTQ inclusive, but also proved that younger generations are becoming more open and accepting of those who happen to be different and love differently from themselves.