The Year 2000 is the Most Bisexual Oscars (so far)
(Catherine Keener plays bisexual in “Being John Malkovich”)
By Mike Szymanski
It’s time to look at the Academy Awards, and this is a good chance to look back at the bisexuality of the Oscars in years past.
I’ve covered the Oscars since 1986 and attended 26 times (including writing for my Bi Eye on Hollywood column for Bi Magazine), but this year, it’s the first time I won’t be just a few blocks away from where they’re being held, I’m out of town. I live up the hill from the theater at Hollywood & Highland where they are being held (I’ve covered them back to the days of the Shrine and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion where they were protesting Jodie Foster for not coming out). I wrote about them for Entertainment Weekly, US Magazine, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, E! Online, the Daily News of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times and SciFI.com.
I will be writing about this year’s Oscars for this site, and Bi Magazine, and I have a backstage pass to interviews after winners get the awards (streaming live on my computer), and will be able to post the hottest photos fresh from the Academy (stay tuned to this site!) So it will be like being there, but not having to wear the tux.
It’d be easy to say that the “Brokeback Mountain” year at the Oscars was the most bi Oscars of them all, with characters like bi cowboys getting nominated, as well as bi characters from “Capote” and “Transamerica” and even one nervous female winner saying on stage, “I want to thank my husband and my wife.” (That was Cathy Schulman, who won best original screenplay for “Crash” who later said she meant to say “my daughter.”) The opening of the show had host Jon Stewart shown in bed with Halle Berry and then with George Clooney, and he says, “Yeah!” Or, you could say it was the “Black Swan” year, or when Penelope Cruz won for playing a bisexual, or the year Jared Leto won, or the year Dustin Lance Black gave that riveting speech about coming out when he won for writing “Milk.”
And no, it wasn’t the 1995 year when Tom Hanks won for “Forrest Gump” and Jessica Lange thanked bisexual director Tony Richardson who directed her in “Blue Sky.” That was the year “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” won for costuming and bi actor Nigel Hawthorne was nominated.
No, the most bi Oscar show ever was 2000 when at least 10 of the movies nominated in the various categories had some element of bisexuality; especially all the big winners: “American Beauty” (five wins) had the next-door-neighbor father with the big secret; “The Matrix” (four wins) had a subtle subplot (that ended up getting emasculated in the final cut) between two women who were more than just friends and liked men, too; and “Topsy-Turvy” (two wins) had bisexual women and cross-dressing men. Other nominated films with bi stuff in them include “Election,” “Being John Malkovich,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “All About My Mother,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Girl, Interrupted” and “Magnolia” (this was subtle, but notice the sidelong glances many of the same-sex characters have with each other. And, Tom Cruise’s character was supposed to have a scene with the Mark Wahlberg character from “Boogie Nights.”)
That was the year Chloe Sevigny came out in The New York Times as bi (and then sort of backtracked) and was nominated for her bisexual role in “Boys Don’t Cry” and watched her co-star Hilary Swank win Best Actress for the trans-gendered role of Brandon Teena. I was lucky enough to chat with some of the openly bisexual actors at the Oscars. I talked to Chloe Sevigny the day she came out in the New York Times as saying, “I’ve questioned issues of gender and sexuality since I was a teenager, and I did some experimenting.” Nominated for her bisexual role in “Boys Don’t Cry,” Chloe told me she had to take a deep breath when she revealed that to the world.
“I don’t know, when I was a teen I was a bit confused I thought maybe I was (bisexual), I don’t know,” said the 25-year-old. “I love women they’re beautiful, what more can I say?”
She loves men, too, and is attached to one right now, and she found her relationships with women rather complicated. “I always ended up getting involved with my close girlfriends and that was really bad,” she told me.
(Winona Ryder kisses Angelina Jolie in “Girl Interrupted”)
“Boy(s Don’t Cry” director Kimberly Peirce, delighted about Hilary Swank’s Best Actress win for the trans-gendered role of Brandon Teena, said she was equally proud of Chloe’s admission of her past bisexuality. “For her to say that in the New York Times is beautiful, and she’s not going to get bashed for it, she’s probably not going to get denied work for it, and that to me on a cultural level is a good thing,” said Peirce, who wears a shock of blue hair among her brown. “As a young actress, she doesn’t think it’s going to jeopardize her career, that to me is progress. She feels the freedom as an actress to say that, she’s not a person who will play those games too much, I see it as a wave of change.”
For herself, Peirce says, “I think desire is a fluid thing and we all have complicated and fluid desires. I do believe we’re in an era where you see it all around you and it’s more OK, but it’s not totally OK, because look what happened to Brandon.” Then, Peirce made her own admission about her next secretive directorial project, “Everyone can be queer, I think everything is gay, bi, lesbian, especially in this generation that is coming of age. And there will be something like that in everything I work on.”
Out bi girl Angelina Jolie beat Chloe with “Girl, Interrupted” and Jolie accepted her award saying, “I find everybody attractive, I’m fascinated by people.”
I interviewed Angelina at the SAG Awards that year, the Golden Globes and finally on the carpet of the Academy Awards and she finally knew me as the guy who had the guts to ask her about the “bi stuff.” At first, at the press conference, she looked me down and I thought she was going to be mad, and she simply said, “I think everyone has the capacity to be attracted to anyone.”
That made the news, and she continues to today. Come back Sunday night and Monday for this year’s Oscar coverage.