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Actors sound off on the 69th Emmys red carpet about the increased visibility of women behind Hollywood’s closed doors.
USA TODAY

Were the 2017 Emmys the gayest outing in the awards’ history? This year’s show would have to top the 2016 ceremony, which honored Sarah Paulson, Kate McKinnon and Jill Soloway, all queer-identifying women, while also rewarding Jeffrey Tambor for his Transparent performance. 

Yet, the 2017 Emmys improved on last year’s ceremonies by honoring a range of LGBT stories and stars with the night’s biggest prizes.

For the second year in a row, McKinnon took home the Emmy for supporting actress in a comedy series for Saturday Night Live, attending this year’s awards with her girlfriend Jackie Abbott.. Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale, which featured harrowing storylines that depicted the consequences of being gay in an authoritarian society, won best drama. As GLAAD pointed out, Tatiana Maslany passed up the blue ACLU ribbon worn by many Emmys attendees in favor of an ampersand pin, representing the organization’s pro-LGBT Together Movement. (Which all made Tessa Thompson’s rainbow flag of an Emmys dress even more joyful.)

And in one of the night’s most life-affirming moments, Lena Waithe took home the Emmy for best writing in a comedy series alongside her co-writer Aziz Ansari, making the Master of None actress the first black woman to win the category.

But the fact that Waithe won the trophy for Thanksgiving, the deeply personal episode she wrote about her own coming-out experience, made her moment in the spotlight among the 2017 Emmys’ best achievements.  

In her speech, Waithe thanked her “LGBTQIA family,” using a phrase that expands the more commonly-seen LGBT acronym by including queer, intersex, and asexual identifiers. As she acknowledged in her speech, it was important that viewers from less-acknowledged sexual and gender identities feel “seen” during her time at the podium.

“I see each and every one of you,” she said. “The things that make us different, those are our super powers. Every day when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape, go out there and conquer the world because the world would not be as beautiful as it is without us in it.”

The winning episode showed Waithe’s character grappling with coming out to her family over a series of Thanksgiving holidays. As Waithe told USA TODAY in May, many of the episode’s…