Lesbian Drama ‘Gentleman Jack’ Was Shunned by the GLAAD Media Awards, and It’s Pretty Appalling

Published on January 20, 2020

The other day I wrote about how actress Suranne Jones was being generally overlooked this award season for her brilliant work on HBO’s Gentleman Jack, not receiving any Best Actress in a Television Drama nominations from the Emmys, Golden Globes or SAG Awards.

Recently though, it has become clear that the “snub” has reached new levels.

The nominations for the 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards were announced recently. The GLAAD Media Awards, which will be hosted both at the New York at the Hilton Midtown on March 19, as well as at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on April 16, “recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community and the issues that affect their lives,” according to GLAAD’s webpage.

What has left a lot of the LGBTQ community perplexed is the outright slap in the face to Gentleman Jack. The shock and dismay is sitting so heavy with a large handful of us, in fact, that a petition has been created via Change.org to add the film to the list of nominees for GLAAD’s Outstanding Drama Series 2020.

“It is unconscionable that GLAAD has overlooked BBC’s / HBO’s Gentleman Jack,” states the petition page.

“This true story from the early 19th century captures the zeitgeist of the 21st century. The main character Anne Lister is considered the ‘first modern lesbian.’ She was a firebrand – a true trailblazer who is relevant in 2020.”

Despite the HBO series being based on the real diaries of Anne Lister, revolving around a historical representation of the known lesbian and her battle with the emotional and physical repercussions of being gay in the 1800s, the series did not receive a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series.

Other drama series’ that contain significantly less consistent LGBTQ representation or simply have the occasional “gay storyline” such as Star Trek Discovery and Supergirl did receive nominations.

Even BBC’s Killing Eve received a nomination, which is a series that simply throws us glimpses of what some people call “gay subtext.”

I have always been a fan of the GLAAD Media Awards and have applauded their vast and powerful representation of the LGBTQ community. I have even attended the awards myself.

So, I feel totally fine bout just flat out asking: WHAT’S THE DEAL, GLAAD?!

I was utterly transfixed while hardcore binging Gentleman Jack. Here we have an LGBTQ woman trying to navigate a life that she can be proud of, and how to arrange some version of a “marriage” to another woman whom she is deeply in love with in such an unforgiving and unaccepting time in history.

Lister, beautifully portrayed by Suranne Jones, has to deal with a profoundly more difficult and complex experience of adversity than most of us in our community does today. I would much rather see a series that addresses both LGBTQ struggles and triumphs directly be nominated for a GLAAD award, rather than a series that, for instance, merely utilizes “gay subtext.”

Even Jones’ husband, television and film writer Laurence Akers, took to twitter to express his disappointment with GLAAD’s decision not to nominate Gentleman Jack for an award.

Some Gentleman Jack and Suranne Jones fans have speculated that GLAAD’s oversight could have been partly due to HBO’s failure to promote the series as much as they could have — prioritizing series’ such as Game of Thrones.

But, that shouldn’t excuse such a respected LGBTQ organization’s ability to recognize an important series within their own community.

As of now, 1,036 signatures have been collected for the Change.org petition, with a goal of 1,500 signatures.

I, for one, would truly love for a change to be made — or at least an explanation from GLAAD themselves as to why Gentleman Jack did not receive the recognition that if very clearly deserves.

Alexi Melvin is the Senior Entertainment Writer at Grit Daily. Based in San Francisco, she covers entertainment, events, and their intersection of tech. She is a voice actress, known for her work in the Star Wars franchise films. She is also fluent in both English and Sarcasm.

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