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Why the VMAs Were the Queerest Show on Earth

Why the VMAs Were the Queerest Show on Earth

Why the VMAs Were the Queerest Show on Earth

Todrick Hall in the Jeremy Scott VMA Instagram Booth

But even when we did hear her, however scarce that was, those words were nowhere near as powerful as her actions, specifically toward the end of the ceremony. A dozen queer kids (many of them transgender and gender non-conforming, including viral sensation Brendan Jordan) introduced Miley Cyrus’s show-stopping finale shortly after each describing the importance of individuality. MTV informed us that these presenters are from the pop star’s newly-formed Happy Hippie Foundation, which helps LGBT and homeless youth “fight injustice.”

SLIDESHOW | Meet the 30 Performers from Miley's VMAs Performance

Their incredibly calm display, though, was quickly counteracted by Miley’s high-velocity performance featuring several drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race, including this past season’s winner Violet Chachki. Oh, and don’t think I didn’t notice that sickening death drop by Laganja Estranja, who this time was not feeling “very attacked!”


rainbows & no f*cks #VMAs

A photo posted by MTV (@mtv) on

Something must also be said about Miley’s presence as a whole. Say what you will about her music (homegirl ended the night by announcing her new, free album available online); her incessant need to talk about smoking pot (that’s all her song was about, right? And this network caters to pre-teens and teens? Ok, just making sure.); or her over-the-top, desperate-for-attention antics (really gurl, those outfits and those dreads?), Miley is, at the end of the day, one of us. After previously acknowledging her sexual fluidity, the 22-year-old told Elle UK that she now identifies as “pansexual,” which has been used interchangeably by some with bisexual.

Oddly enough, I’m sure a lot of MTV’s young viewers knew that by the time she walked on stage Sunday, maybe even defined it for themselves after she said it. Then again, we have to remember that we’re talking about the same audience that educated themselves with Laverne Cox’s now-Emmy award-winning The T Word documentary.

RELATED | VMAs Red Carpet: Good, Bad & Ugly

Other hints of queerness were sprinkled throughout the telecast, though, that went beyond Miley and her cavalcade of LGBT friends: Not only was Jeremy Scott dressing Miley in psychedelic costumes and Todrick Hall featured in the pre-show, Empire’s openly-gay star Jussie Smollett talked about the Supreme Court’s historic marriage equality decision while presenting the award for Video With A Social Message. Plus, Video of the Year winner Taylor Swift also commented upon accepting her Moonman that she was happy to live in a world where “boys can play princesses, and girls can play soldiers.” Don't forget that two people escorting Amber Rose and Blac Chyna wore ensembles emblazoned with the epithet “faggot,” which complemented their outfits showcasing derogatory words like “bitch,” “slut,” and “whore.”

Yes, the VMAs have always been politically progressive. Just look back to when Lady Gaga brought military personnel discharged under "don’t ask, don’t tell" as her guests and when she thanked both God and the gays while on stage. That’s just one of several instances in which the LGBT identity has not only been acknowledged, but it’s been celebrated by people whose every move is essentially idolized by entertainment consumers across America and the world. This year elevated all of that to Justin Bieber’s level—well, at least once he started flying.

Yet, we also have to remember that the VMAs, during the height of the AIDS crisis, recognized the Dire Straits for their homophobic song “Money for Nothing.” Even though that pales in comparison to the positivity we’ve seen over the past three decades, it doesn’t negate the fact that it still happened.

I’m sure many people will remember Sunday for a host of reasons, whether because of Kanye West’s incoherent speech and 2020 presidential announcement or Nicki Minaj and Miley’s reading each other for filth. But if anything, this year’s VMAs clearly stood for "Vocalizing Music’s Acceptance."

Go Behind the Scenes with Miley at VMAs below:

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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Pride Editor