Gayla Affair the 78th Academy Awards Step out of the Closet

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Byline: Dann Gire Daily Herald Film Critic

Six nominations at the upcoming 78th Academy Awards have turned 2005 into a landmark year for a segment of American society either ignored or misrepresented in mainstream motion pictures.

For the first time in history, several Oscars will likely be awarded to gay-themed films and actors playing gay characters. (See my predictions, at right.) That will make Sunday night's Academy Awards as much of a milestone as they were in 2002, when, for the first time, acting awards went to two African-Americans, Denzel Washington and Halle Berry.

What happens if the two movies and the four actors playing those gay characters all win Oscars?

"That increases our visibility," Damon Romine said. "And with greater visibility comes greater understanding and greater acceptance."

Romine works as the Entertainment Media Director for G.L.A.A.D., aka the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

He said he'll especially be rooting Sunday night for "Brokeback Mountain," a wonderfully wrought drama about two men struggling to fit their love relationship into an unaccepting world.

Heath Ledger has been nominated for Best Actor and Jake Gyllenhaal for Best Supporting Actor. Director Ang Lee has received a nomination, along with the movie as Best Picture.

Then we have "Transamerica," which would be a conventional road- trip drama, except this one stars Best Actress nominee Felicity Huffman as a gay man about to undergo transgender surgery.

We also have "Capote," nominated for Best Picture and starring the incredible Philip Seymour Hoffman, who earned a Best Actor nomination for playing the overtly effeminate and gay novelist Truman Capote.

Romine said that the ripple effects of dropping "Brokeback Mountain," "Transamerica" and "Capote" into the Academy Awards pool have already been felt in the industry. …