The 60th annual Tony Awards were held June 11 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, and may have been the gayest Tonys ever. Not only did actress Cynthia Nixon warm the hearts of lesbians everywhere when she kissed her partner Christine Marinoni after winning the award for best actress in a play, but gay themes, nominees, and winners were in the spotlight all evening.
The gay-themed drama The History Boys took six awards, making it the most honored play not just of the night but in Tony history. Its awards included best direction of a play for out gay director Nicholas Hytner and best play for out gay playwright Alan Bennett. The gay-themed musical The Drowsy Chaperone followed close on its heels with five awards, including best original score and best book for a musical.
Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon won Best Actress in a Play for her portrayal of a mother suffering the accidental death of her child in Rabbit Hole. Also starring in Rabbit Hole was fellow nominee Tyne Daly, who played the role of Mary Beth Lacey in the 80s television drama Cagney and Lacey.
Nixon, who won an Emmy for her supporting role as attorney Miranda Hobbes on the award-winning HBO series, was first rumored to be involved with a woman in 2003. She attended the Tonys with partner Christine Marinoni, the New York City director of the Alliance for Quality Education.
Last year, out actress Cherry Jones won Best Actress in a Play for her role in Doubt. When Jones was announced as the winner, she received a kiss from girlfriend, stage and screen actress Sarah Paulson.
Out lesbian performance artist and playwright Lisa Kron was nominated for her leading role in for play Well, but lost to Nixon. Well was described by Kron as an “avant-garde meta-theatrical” piece and was directed by out lesbian Leigh Silverman.
LaChanze won the award for best actress in a musical for her role as the bisexual Celie in the much-nominated but otherwise unrecognized The Color Purple. Her win was considered an upset over Patti Lupone in the revival of out gay composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. The Color Purple was a critical failure, and LaChanze’s win was widely seen as a gesture toward producer and champion Oprah Winfrey. The musical was nominated for eleven awards, but LaChanze was the only winner.