Lil Nas X And 11 Other Black LGBTQ Celebrities Who Deserve BET Awards

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Lil Nas X made the news when he dragged BET for excluding him from the 2022 BET Awards after his debut album, Montero, received four Grammy nominations and produced five hit singles, each breaking the Billboard Hot 100.

Lil Nas X kissing his backup dancer

At the end of the 2021 BET Awards performance for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," he made out with his backup dancer and received immediate backlash from anti-LGBTQ Black audiences.

Bennett Raglin / Getty Images for BET

Lil Nas X brought attention to a lack of LGBTQ acceptance in Black culture and blamed BET for amplifying the anti-LGBTQ sentiment through lack of visibility and blatant exclusion.

He claims the strained relationship began after BET became very upset following the performance stunt.

Looking back at previous years, it's apparent he's not wrong. LGBTQ representation is lacking in most pop culture, but it's almost non-existent in every BET Awards show, despite trailblazing queer entertainers' contributions to the culture.

HBO / Via giphy.com

In what looked like a last-ditch PR stunt, Billy Porter and Saucy Santana performed at this year's show. A brilliant performance, but Lil Nas X's revelations, including his latest single and BET diss track, "Late to da Party," loomed over the ceremony.

Lil Nas X's feud sparked conversation at the awards show, including Jack Harlow showing his support by wearing his absent friend and "Industry Baby" collaborator on a T-shirt on the red carpet.

Jack Harlow wearing a T-shirt on the red carpet that says "Lil Nas X" in large letters with an artistic rendering of Lil Nas taking up the rest of the shirt
Paras Griffin / Getty Images for BET

So, here's a list of Black LGBTQ celebrities who deserve to be nominated and honored at the BET Awards.

Keiynan Lonsdale

The Australian actor, dancer, and singer-songwriter is a promising young talent. He speaks to a younger generation of queer Black youth seeking representation. He's appeared on the CW as Kid Flash; the heartthrob from the feel-good LGBTQ rom-com Love, Simon; and most recently, the lead in My Fake Boyfriend. Queer youth must see talent in positive roles, and Lonsdale is only getting started. The BET Awards have a section for new talent.

The Australian actor, dancer, and singer-songwriter is a promising young talent. He speaks to a younger generation of queer Black youth seeking representation. He's appeared on the CW as Kid Flash; the heartthrob from the feel-good LGBTQ rom-com Love, Simon; and most recently, the lead in My Fake Boyfriend. Queer youth must see talent in positive roles, and Lonsdale is only getting started. The BET Awards have a section for new talent.

Brendon Thorne / Getty Images

Karamo Brown

Karamo Brown is the culture expert on the Netflix series Queer Eye, and based on the strained inclusivity at the BET Awards, the biggest night of culture could use his help. I remember Karamo from his first appearance on MTV's The Real World: Philadelphia, where he was the first openly gay Black man on a reality show. It was the first time I saw a queer man who looked like me on television, and his journey into hosting television has inspired me ever since. 

Karamo Brown is the culture expert on the Netflix series Queer Eye, and based on the strained inclusivity at the BET Awards, the biggest night of culture could use his help. I remember Karamo from his first appearance on MTV's The Real World: Philadelphia, where he was the first openly gay Black man on a reality show. It was the first time I saw a queer man who looked like me on television, and his journey into hosting television has inspired me ever since.

Jason Kempin / Getty Images for CMT

Dominique Jackson

Billy Porter brought her out during a small performance at the 2022 BET Awards, but I need to see the legendary Dominique Jackson's name on some nominations. She is known for her leading role in the FX series Pose, but she is also a model and writer. For trans visibility and queer representation to be taken seriously, start within the culture first.

Billy Porter brought her out during a small performance at the 2022 BET Awards, but I need to see the legendary Dominique Jackson's name on some nominations. She is known for her leading role in the FX series Pose, but she is also a model and writer. For trans visibility and queer representation to be taken seriously, start within the culture first.

Amy Sussman / Getty Images for Critics Choice Association

Saucy Santana

The BET Awards managed to include Saucy Satanana in an opening performance, but it came off like a rushed publicity stunt to change the Lil Nas X narrative. Nevertheless, Saucy Santana shut it down with a hot performance of his most famous songs known for setting viral TikTok trends. He started as a makeup artist for City Girls and now performs alongside them as a fellow rapper. Saucy Satana is one of many queer hip-hop artists rarely recognized outside their niche audiences.

The BET Awards managed to include Saucy Satanana in an opening performance, but it came off like a rushed publicity stunt to change the Lil Nas X narrative. Nevertheless, Saucy Santana shut it down with a hot performance of his most famous songs known for setting viral TikTok trends. He started as a makeup artist for City Girls and now performs alongside them as a fellow rapper. Saucy Satana is one of many queer hip-hop artists rarely recognized outside their niche audiences.

Amy Sussman / Getty Images,

Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox is a trailblazer for the Black trans community. She was the first Black trans woman to win a Daytime Emmy Award in Outstanding Special Class Special as executive producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word. Cox has collected many firsts as a television actress and film producer. She is a loud advocate for the LGBTQ community and speaks about issues surrounding the trans folk at every opportunity. There's an endless list of trans Black women who deserve a bigger platform, but she would make a great start.

Laverne Cox is a trailblazer for the Black trans community. She was the first Black trans woman to win a Daytime Emmy Award in Outstanding Special Class Special as executive producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word. Cox has collected many firsts as a television actress and film producer. She is a loud advocate for the LGBTQ community and speaks about issues surrounding the trans folk at every opportunity. There's an endless list of trans Black women who deserve a bigger platform, but she would make a great start.

Mark Sagliocco / WireImage

Tessa Thompson

It's mind-boggling how this evolving actor's name remains absent from any BET Awards recognition. As a queer icon, choosing not to simplify her sexuality, she's become a prominent fixture in two major projects: the Marvel Cinematic Universe and HBO's Westworld, and both of her characters are queer women. It's the visibility in front, behind, and on the side of the camera for me.

It's mind-boggling how this evolving actor's name remains absent from any BET Awards recognition. As a queer icon, choosing not to simplify her sexuality, she's become a prominent fixture in two major projects: the Marvel Cinematic Universe and HBO's Westworld, and both of her characters are queer women. It's the visibility in front, behind, and on the side of the camera for me.

Axelle / FilmMagic

Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean received two nominations for the BET Hip Hop Awards in 2011. However, after he discussed his bisexuality that same year, the nominations stopped despite releasing two critically acclaimed albums over the decade. Channel Orange and Blonde earned him numerous nominations and a Grammy Award, but maybe his independence and acknowledgment of his sexuality were enough to remove him from BET's radar.

Frank Ocean received two nominations for the BET Hip Hop Awards in 2011. However, after he discussed his bisexuality that same year, the nominations stopped despite releasing two critically acclaimed albums over the decade. Channel Orange and Blonde earned him numerous nominations and a Grammy Award, but maybe his independence and acknowledgment of his sexuality were enough to remove him from BET's radar.

Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic

Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts receiving a little recognition from the BET Awards wouldn't change her career. Still, it would be a great platform to recognize her accomplishments as one of the most successful queer Black women on daytime television. Roberts is a seasoned journalist with ESPN and Good Morning America, earning numerous awards for her work — a Peabody and induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame — while battling health issues that never stopped her from changing the landscape of television for queer folk.

Robin Roberts receiving a little recognition from the BET Awards wouldn't change her career. Still, it would be a great platform to recognize her accomplishments as one of the most successful queer Black women on daytime television. Roberts is a seasoned journalist with ESPN and Good Morning America, earning numerous awards for her work — a Peabody and induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame — while battling health issues that never stopped her from changing the landscape of television for queer folk.

Jason Merritt / Getty Images for GLAAD

Wanda Sykes

Ms. Wanda Sykes is long overdue for some respect from all sectors of the entertainment industry. Sykes has 14 Primetime Emmy nominations. For a long time, she remained a hilarious main ingredient of mainstream Black culture until she publicly came out in 2008 following her involvement in activism with Proposition 8. She remains an advocate for the LGBTQ community and recently hosted the 2022 Oscars, proving that she is probably one of the most qualified people to host the next BET Awards show. Let's bring her into the fold, culture.

Ms. Wanda Sykes is long overdue for some respect from all sectors of the entertainment industry. Sykes has 14 Primetime Emmy nominations. For a long time, she remained a hilarious main ingredient of mainstream Black culture until she publicly came out in 2008 following her involvement in activism with Proposition 8. She remains an advocate for the LGBTQ community and recently hosted the 2022 Oscars, proving that she is probably one of the most qualified people to host the next BET Awards show. Let's bring her into the fold, culture.

Rich Fury / Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Lena Waithe

Lena Waithe was down for the culture since day one, so it makes the most sense to recognize the multi-hyphenate creator.  After becoming the first Black woman to win a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series in 2017, she went on to create the hit Showtime series The Chi and two popular BET series, Boomerang and Twenties. She literally works with BET and still somehow manages to not be included in the spotlight surrounding her queer identity. 

Lena Waithe was down for the culture since day one, so it makes the most sense to recognize the multi-hyphenate creator. After becoming the first Black woman to win a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series in 2017, she went on to create the hit Showtime series The Chi and two popular BET series, Boomerang and Twenties. She literally works with BET and still somehow manages to not be included in the spotlight surrounding her queer identity.

Rodin Eckenroth / FilmMagic

RuPaul

RuPaul is the world's most famous drag queen and one of the most successful people on television. He is the most awarded person of color in the history of the Primetime Emmys, collecting over 11 awards for his RuPaul's Drag Race franchise. RuPaul's been in the game since the '90s with his talk show, radio show, and successful music career. The BET Awards Lifetime Achievement Award would barely fit on his shelf at this point, but as one of the most famous Black pioneers of television, I think it's well deserved and overdue.

RuPaul is the world's most famous drag queen and one of the most successful people on television. He is the most awarded person of color in the history of the Primetime Emmys, collecting over 11 awards for his RuPaul's Drag Race franchise. RuPaul's been in the game since the '90s with his talk show, radio show, and successful music career. The BET Awards Lifetime Achievement Award would barely fit on his shelf at this point, but as one of the most famous Black pioneers of television, I think it's well deserved and overdue.

Randy Holmes / ABC via Getty Images

Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X made enormous strides for young queer Black entertainers. And not just because of his diamond-certified debut single,

Lil Nas X made enormous strides for young queer Black entertainers. And not just because of his diamond-certified debut single, "Old Town Road." He's constantly pushing boundaries by becoming one of the first Black queer artists to set records, including having one of the longest chart-topping songs in Billboard history. If any modern music awards ceremony excludes Lil Nas X, it's based on something besides his award-winning music career.

L. Busacca / Getty Images for Songwriters Hall of Fame

Which Black queer celebrities would you like to see honored at the next BET Awards?