A Tony Awards ceremony that was already unique when queer Oscar-winning host Ariana DeBose hosted an unscripted event (because of the writers' strike) became even more historic when two nonbinary actorsAlex Newell and J. Harrison Gheewon awards on June 11 at the 76th annual show.
Newell became the first openly nonbinary performer to win a Tony Award for actor in a featured role in a musical, for their role in Shucked. Newell thanked the Shucked ensemble, crew and creative team as well as their mother, "for loving me unconditionally" and "teaching me what strength is," The Hollywood Reporter noted.
Later that evening, Ghee became the second-ever openly nonbinary actor to win a Tony with their leading role in a musical win. "My mother raised me to understand that my gifts that God gave me were not about me; to use them to be effective in the world; to help somebody else's journey," Ghee said, in part. "So thank you for teaching me how to live, how to love, how to give. For every trans, nonbinary gender nonconforming human who was told you couldn't be seen, this is for you." Interestingly, one of the other nominees in Ghee's category was openly gay actor Ben Platt (who recently announced his engagement to actor Noah Galvin).
During the 2022 Tonys, Six co-creator Toby Marlow became the first openly nonbinary composer-lyricist in the award show's history to win for best original score.
However, Newell and Ghee were not the only winners to represent the LGBTQ+ community. Sean Hayes (best known as Jack on the TV series Will & Grace) won best actor in a play for Good Night, Oscarafter winning a Jeff Award locally in 2022 for performing the same role at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. Openly gay performer Brandon Uranowitz won for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play, for his role in Leopoldstadt.
In addition, Michael Ardenwho's also openly gaywon for best direction of a musical for helming Parade. According to a separate piece in The Hollywood Reporter, Arden dedicated his lengthy speech to "the battalion of people who made Parade and who bring it to life so beautifully and terrifyingly every night." He also addressed the rise of white supremacy and antisemitism while adding, "To our beautiful trans, nonbinary queer youth: know that your queerness is what makes you beautiful and powerful."
In addition, Jodie Comer (widely known for her role as lesbian assassin Villanelle on the show Killing Eve) won for best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play, for her role in the production Prima Facie.
Lastly, two LGBTQ+ legendsactor Joel Grey (best known for his role in Cabaret) and composer John Kander (of Cabaret, Chicago and many other productions)received lifetime achievement Tony Awards. However, some slammed the fact that the honors were bestowed during the PlutoTV pre-show. (They were acknowledged during the main show via a performance of Chicago's "Hot Honey Rag" by DeBose and Julianne Hough, EW.com noted.)