Anohni, the first transgender performer ever nominated for an Oscar, is boycotting the Academy Awards ceremony. The Best Original Song nominee explained her decision in an essay for Pitchfork on Thursday, February 25.
“I am the only transgendered performer ever to have been nominated for an Academy Award, and for that I thank the artists who nominated me,” Anohni, 44, wrote. “I was in Asia when I found out the news. I rushed home to prepare something, in case the music nominees would be asked to perform. Everyone was calling with excited congratulations. A week later, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga and The Weeknd were rolled out as the evening’s entertainment with more performers ‘soon to be announced.’ Confused, I sat and waited. Would someone be in touch? But as time bore on I heard nothing. I was besieged with people asking me if I was going to perform.”
Anohni, formerly known as Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, is nominated for “Manta Ray,” her collaboration with J. Ralph from the film Racing Extinction. Three of the songwriter’s fellow Best Original Song nominees will take the Oscars stage. Gaga is set to deliver an emotional rendition of “Til It Happens to You,” The Weeknd will perform the Fifty Shades of Grey hit “Earned It” and Smith will sing “Writing’s on the Wall,” the theme song from the 2015 James Bond film Spectre. Dave Grohl, who is not nominated for any awards, is also scheduled to perform.
“Everyone told me that I still ought to attend, that a walk down the red carpet would still be ‘good for my career,’” Anohni continued. “Last night I tried to force myself to get on the plane to fly to L.A. for all the nominee events, but the feelings of embarrassment and anger knocked me back, and I couldn’t get on the plane. I imagined how it would feel for me to sit amongst all those Hollywood stars, some of the brave ones approaching me with sad faces and condolences. There I was, feeling a sting of shame that reminded me of America’s earliest affirmations of my inadequacy as a transperson. I turned around at the airport and went back home.”
Anohni also noted that the Oscars labeled her as transgendered on the trivia page of their website. The detail has since been removed.
Last month, host Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, Spike Lee and more took to social media to express their outrage over the lack of diversity among the 2016 Oscar nominees. For the second year in a row, every single acting nominee is white. Smith later called for a boycott of the ceremony, as the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite started to trend on Twitter.
The 88th Academy Awards airs on Sunday, February 28, at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC.
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