8 openly LGBTQ people who won Oscars

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LGBTQ oscar winners
There have only been a few openly LGBTQ Oscar winners. Getty
  • The Academy has given thousands of awards, but not many have gone to openly LGBTQ people.

  • Elton John, Sam Smith, and Melissa Etheridge were out as LGBTQ when they won best original song.

  • Best original screenplay is another category that has been awarded to openly LGBTQ people.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Elton John has won the best original song award twice in his career.

elton john
Bernie Taupin and Elton John. Kevin Winter/ Getty

In 1995, the best original song category was Elton John's to win because three of his songs from "The Lion King" were nominated. In the end, the famous gay icon and Tim Rice won for "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" He dedicated the award to his grandmother who died the week before.

In 2020, John won another best original song award for "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again," which he wrote with his longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin for his musical biopic, "Rocketman." In his acceptance speech, John thanked his longtime partner, David Furnish, and their sons.

Melissa Etheridge took home the Academy Award for best original song in 2007.

melissa etheridge
Melissa Etheridge. Frank Trapper / Getty

After coming out as a lesbian in 1993, Etheridge continued a long career in music. In 2006, her song "I Need to Wake Up" premiered in the documentary film "An Inconvenient Truth," which profiled Al Gore and global warming.

"This feels as good as you think it does," Etheridge said in her speech before thanking her wife, who was in the audience.

In 2016, Sam Smith won best original song for "Writing's on the Wall."

sma smith
Sam Smith. Christopher Polk / Getty

Smith, who identifies as gay and non-binary, wrote a song called "Writing's on the Wall" for the 2015 James Bond movie, "Spectre," with fellow songwriter Jimmy Napes.

"I stand here as a proud, gay man and I hope one day we can all stand as equals," Smith said in their speech.

While accepting the Academy Award, Smith wrongly said they were the first gay person to win an Oscar, which was met with backlash on social media. They later apologized.

Howard Ashman won two Academy Awards after writing some of Disney's most popular songs.

Howard ashman
Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. ABC

In 1990, Ashman, pictured right, took home the prize — along with writing partner Alan Menken — for best original song for "Under the Sea," which is the breakout song from Disney's "The Little Mermaid."

Two years later, he won again for best original song for "Beauty and the Beast," from the movie of the same name. Unfortunately, he died of complications due to AIDS before accepting the award. Ashman's partner, Bill Lauch, accepted the Oscar on his behalf, saying, "This is the first Academy Award given to someone we lost to AIDS."

Alan Ball won the Academy Award for best original screenplay for his movie "American beauty."

alan ball
Alan Ball. mark peterson / Getty

Ball, an openly gay man, wrote "American Beauty," which follows a suburban father who becomes interested in his daughter's best friend. Sam Mendes directed the film, which won the best picture, and Ball won best original screenplay.

Dustin Lance Black also won best original screenplay for his movie "Milk."

Dustin Lance Black.
Dustin Lance Black. Jeff Kravitz / Getty

Black wrote the 2008 movie "Milk," which starred Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, a local politician in San Francisco who fought for gay rights before being assassinated. The film went on to become a best picture nominee, and Black took home the award for best original screenplay.

"I heard the story of Harvey Milk, and it gave me hope," he said in his speech. "It gave me hope to live my life openly as who I am and maybe fall in love and even one day get married."

He is now married to Olympian Tom Daley.

"To all the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told they are less than by their churches or by government or by their families, you are beautiful, wonderful creatures," he added.

Pedro Almodóvar won an Oscar for best foreign language film.

Pedro Almodóvar
Pedro Almodóvar. Bob Riha Jr / Getty

Pedro Almodóvar is considered Spain's most famous film director, according to The Guardian. In 2000, his movie "All About My Mother" — which features a transgender person — won the best foreign language film at the Academy Awards.

The openly gay filmmaker won another Academy Award in 2003 for best original screenplay for his film "Talk to Her."

Rob Epstein won two Academy Awards for his documentaries.

rob epstein
Rob Epstein. Valerie Macon / Getty

In 1985, Epstein won the Academy Award for directing "The Times of Harvey Milk," a documentary that follows the gay politician's life before his assassination. During his acceptance speech, he thanked his life partner and Harvey Milk.

Epstein won the same award again in 1990 for his documentary "Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt," which focuses on the AIDS crisis.

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