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Janelle Monae and Billy Porter opened the Oscars serving Black queer excellence

Nick Duffy February 10, 2020
Janelle Monáe and Billy Porter perform the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 9, 2020 in Hollywood, California.

Janelle Monáe and Billy Porter perform at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 9, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Janelle Monae and Billy Porter opened the Oscars with a musical performance that blew the entire house down.

The two out stars took to the stage for the opening of the Academy Awards on Sunday, leading a musical opening number that kicked off with Monae dressed as Mister Rodgers as a send-up to A Beautiful Day in the Neighorhood.

She told the crowd: “Hello, neighbours. Tonight, we celebrate the art of storytelling,  the misfits, the outcasts, the misunderstood, the voices long deprived. Be loud, be lit, be seen, be heard, because tonight we come alive!”

Porter made a surprise appearance in the medley, revealing his second of three outfit changes for a tribute to Elton John’s Rocketman, dressing as Sir Elton himself for the all-too-brief duet with Monae.

Janelle Monae ‘proud to stand here as a Black queer artist’.

Speaking during the performance, Monae pointedly added: “Tonight we celebrate all the talent in this room. We celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films, and I’m so proud to stand here as a Black queer artist, telling stories. Happy Black History Month.”

The barb came after critics pointed out that all of the Best Director nominees are straight white men – with the exception of Parasite director Bong Joon-ho, who is a Korean straight man.

The performance went down a storm with fans, who couldn’t get enough of Monae and Porter – who sadly did not stick around to anchor the hostless show.

One wrote: “Omg this legendary opening… Janelle, Billy Porter, all the movie characters, speeches about female filmmakers, black history month, everything was a blast and celebration ✨ #Oscars.”

Another added: “THE GAYS AND THE QUEERS ARE THRIVING.”

Janelle Monáe and Billy Porter perform at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 9, 2020
Janelle Monáe and Billy Porter perform at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 9, 2020 (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Porter tweeted afterwards: “You know I’m still standing better than I ever did.⁠ Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid…” 🎶 Still gagged that I got to open the 92nd Annual #Oscars alongside the brilliant @JanelleMonae with one of my favorite @eltonofficial songs!”

Monae simply wrote: “T H A N K Y O U !!!!!!!!!!”

Elton John is only LGBT+ winner of the night.

The only major LGBT+ award win of the night came as Elton John won the Academy Award for Best Original Song alongside his longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin for “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from Rocketman.

The singer gave a moving speech in which he thanked his husband and their two sons.

“David, I love you so much,” he said, adding: “To my beautiful boys who are watching this in Sydney, how much do I love you? Daddy loves you.”

More: academy awards, Billy Porter, black history month, janelle monae, Oscars

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