MTV Trailblazers: Lena Waithe and Keiynan Lonsdale

Kathleen Posted by Kathleen at June 19, 2018 15:23:10 June 19, 2018 15:23:10

Lena Waithe won the official MTV Trailblazer award in last night’s broadcast but it was Keiynan Lonsdale who proved why the trail she’s blazing is so important. Keiynan was a trailblazer in his own right while accepting Best Kiss solo, proudly in a dress, flawlessly without his co-star and kissing partner Nick Robinson in Love, Simon (Nick couldn’t make it). As Lena said about the members of the LGBTQ community who came before her, “they strutted through a brick wall so we wouldn’t have to.

The “they” she is referring to are the subjects of the 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning which followed queer communities of colour in New York in the 80s. Lena credits the people in Paris Is Burning and their legacy for giving her the opportunities she has today. 

"Watch it and find out where you got your culture from… Every time someone says “shade” or talks about reading or just decides to serve face for no reason at all, please look up to the sky and give thanks because we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

Lena is able to swagger through walls because the people before her had to dismantle those walls brick by brick, cultural imprint by cultural imprint. Imagine the freedom she is bestowing on the generation looking to her with huge debts of gratitude. Imagine what it means for Keiynan Lonsdale to see a fellow member of his community accept one of the highest honours of the night in the same show he got to share his magical message. Imagine what it meant for him to see her cheering the loudest for him in the crowd. 

"You can live your dreams and wear dresses, you can live your dreams and kiss the one that you love no matter what gender they are, you can live your dreams and you can believe in magic, you can live your dreams and you can be yourself."

GO OFF, Keiynan! I fell in love with him last night, even more than I did when I watched Love, Simon and swooned during that kiss on the Ferris wheel. It’s an EPIC kiss. If you haven’t seen Love, Simon yet, fix your life. It is one of my favourite movies of the year and hands down, the best romantic teen comedy of the year – in YEARS. Love, Simon is a trailblazer this year like Moonlight was last year.

This marks two years in a row when the Best Kiss at the MTV Movie and TV Awards went to a same-sex kiss. Sometimes those bricks that have to be dismantled are little pieces of debris – the subtle comments, the assumptions of straightness, the little things that keep young men, women and gender non-conforming people from living their truth out loud. These subtleties are tackled in Love, Simon, hopefully clearing a little bit more of the way for the next generation. Lena Waithe is doing the same with her work and as Common said when he introduced her, Lena mentors emerging writers so that they can blaze trails of their own. 

It’s really hard to be cynical when these kids are giving me so much hope for the future. 

Watch Keiynan reacting to his win below. 


Adriana M. Barraza/ Dave Bedrosian/ Future Image/ WENN, Chris Polk/ Kevin Winter/ Frazer Harrison/ Jeff Kravitz/ Getty Images

Tags: Lena Waithe
Previous Article Next Article