The Golden Globes possesses something unique in comparison to all other awards shows, which is evident in not only the broadcast itself – which is every bit as light and fun as a good Hollywood party should be – but also in the wide breadth of selections that the Hollywood Foreign Press selects as the best in film and television from the previous year. Sure, some say these awards are pretty much pointless and only a precursor for the “real” awards. But I think those people are missing the point of what the show stands for. The awards serve a purpose of highlighting the incredibly diverse landscape of film and television as we march onward into the 21st century.

From 2014 nominees such as “The Imitation Game” and “Orange is the New Black,” to winners such as “The Normal Heart” and “Transparent,” the influence of the LGBTQ community was clear at Sunday night’s Golden Globes. The LGBTQ presence changed the fabric of not only this show, but also Hollywood in general. Despite the continued challenges in the lives of these people, many great strides have been made in the past few years, and this trend is being reflected in the public eyes of film and television.

It was honest and refreshing to see so many widely diverse films and television shows honored during the broadcast. “Transparent,” the Best TV Show, Musical or Comedy winner, which is about three adult children dealing with the many extreme changes as their father begins to transition into a woman, illustrates real-life struggles for transgender people. Audiences and critics alike have responded very positively to this deeply personal tale from showrunner Jill Soloway whose own father came out to her as transgender a few years ago.

The open and accepting culture we live in today could not have been imagined during Alan Turing’s lifetime. Turing was a genius scientist and a code breaker during WWII, who also happened to be gay at a time when that was still illegal. His story was portrayed in the Best Picture, Drama nominee, “The Imitation Game.” The depiction of Turing, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, was honest and heartbreaking. Here was a man who saved millions of lives by cracking German war codes, but was ridiculed and tortured because he was gay. Despite the positive changes we have made as a society, the film highlights how just a short while ago gay people were treated as freaks and outcasts and how we must strive to avoid these same mistakes.

These challenging and honest portrayals of LGBTQ characters in pop culture last year are certainly not the only noteworthy ones. “Orange is the New Black,” a Netflix original show about life in a women’s prison, features fully developed lesbians and transgendered characters on the show; one of which is portrayed by an actual transgender actress, Laverne Cox. I think it will be important to cast actual LGBTQ actors and actresses in these types of roles moving forward, because who better to portray the various inherent challenges than the people who actually live them on a daily basis.

I do not think it is any stretch to say that we have made some serious strides as a culture in our treatment of people in the LGBTQ community, but there is still work to be done. As Soloway gave her acceptance speech for “Transparent,” she dedicated the award to the trans community, in particular the transgender teen Leelah Alcott, who tragically committed suicide after being rejected by her parents. This is heartbreaking, as no one should feel ridiculed or be punished for trying to be who they are, no matter what that means. We are all human beings living on this planet, and everyone should be treated with the same amount of rights and respect. So, while the wins and acknowledgement at the awards show were a good step forward, it is evident that more needs to be done; but at least a dialogue has been started.

Contact reporter Jeffrey Irvine at jeffrey.irvine@richmond.edu