Moonlight’s big win at the Academy Awards last night stunned (as well as gratified) many viewers, including Patricia Arquette. The Oscar winner tells Vanity Fair that the film’s victory is heartening to see, especially in light of the bigotry that still exists in the world: “This beautiful story about a gay kid in America in a world that doesn’t accept gay people.” But Arquette also wondered why, when recognizing this stunning achievement of queer cinema—scratch that, of filmmaking, period—the Oscars chose to leave her sister out of the ceremony’s In Memoriam segment.
The late Alexis Arquette was a trans woman and activist, with 70 acting credits to her name. Her sister Patricia admitted she was “really bummed” not to see Alexis’ photo included in the broadcast of the In Memoriam reel, considering her artistic output and advocacy work: ”Her career was cut short, not by her passing, but by her decision to live her truth and her life as a transgender woman. Despite the fact that there are few parts for trans actors, she refused to play roles that were demeaning or stereotypical. She was a vanguard in the fight for understanding and acceptance for all trans people.”
Arquette’s omission was a missed opportunity, her sister says: “We’re living in a time right now where trans kids can’t even go to the bathroom in schools and they’re diminished in society. It’s really unfortunate that the Oscars decided they couldn’t show a trans person who was such an important person in this community. Because—trans kids—it could have meant a lot to them.”
The Academy hadn’t responded to Arquette’s concerns as of this writing, but the Wedding Singer and Here And Now actress can be seen in the online slideshow of this year’s In Memoriam, along with Garry Shandling and Robert Vaughn, who were also notably absent from the broadcast version.