Sarah Paulson thought about not thanking her girlfriend at the Emmys. She's glad she did.

Sarah Paulson was a standout at the 2016 Emmys.

Her roles in "American Horror Story" and "The People v. O.J. Simpson" had fans and critics alike rooting for the actress long before she even hit the red carpet.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.


She ended up snagging Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for her role in the Simpson crime anthology.

As she stood on stage, Paulson publicly apologized to the real life person she portrayed on screen, Marcia Clark — the head prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

"The more I learned about the real Marcia Clark, not the two-dimensional cardboard cutout I saw on the news, but the complicated, whip-smart, giant-hearted mother of two, who woke up every day, put both feet on the floor and dedicated herself to righting an unconscionable wrong," Paulson said in her speech. "The more I had to recognize that I, along with the rest of the world, had been superficial and careless in my judgment."

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

The apology made waves across the internet for days.

But it was a different, less reported line in Paulson's speech that the actress said she was unsure about: Should she thank her girlfriend?

"Holland Taylor," she said, concluding her speech by addressing her partner. "I love you."

It was just one sentence, but it made a difference.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Paulson opened up about the double standard in straight relationships and queer ones when it comes to public affection and visibility in Hollywood, and why she wouldn't let it deter her from living honestly (emphasis added):

"In terms of my speech, I wanted to say I love you to the person I love. Everyone else does it, so should I not do it because the person I love is a woman? And so I thought, you know what? I’m just gonna do it. I wasn’t worried over it. It was a flashing thought — ‘should I do it?’ And I thought to myself, ‘The fact that I am having this thought is wrong in the first place.’ The idea that I would have to take a moment before I say this to consider what impact it might have that could be negative is an asinine thing to engage with mentally, and I refuse to do it. So I just said what I wanted to say."

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

Paulson's win was celebrated as one of several big moments for LGBTQ women at the Emmys this year.

Openly queer Jill Soloway, the creator of "Transparent," won Best Directing for a Comedy Series — "Topple the patriarchy!" she yelled gleefully from the stage during her speech — while "Saturday Night Live" star Kate McKinnon, the series' first openly lesbian cast member, snagged Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Laverne Cox, who became the first transgender artist to be nominated in an acting category last year, also presented the award for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special.

"Thank you, Ellen DeGeneres, thank you, Hillary Clinton," McKinnon said as a nod to two big names she's impersonated (flawlessly) on her rise to stardom, as the audience laughed.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Don't let the 2016 Emmys fool you, though. TV still has a ways to go before LGBTQ actors and characters are depicted fairly on screen.

Although progress has been made, there's still not enough quality representation in primetime programming — especially for transgender characters, women, and people of color, as the 2015 GLAAD "Where We Are On TV" report found.

What's more, when LGBTQ characters are included, they too often fall into dangerous tropes that perpetuate negative stereotypes. Hollywood also has a tendency to kill off LGBTQ characters or avoid giving them happy endings: "bury your gays," as it's been coined throughout the years.

Too often, queer characters are written more like props — not as complex, real people.  

The only recurring LGBTQ character on TV who's HIV-positive is portrayed by Conrad Ricamora (left) in "How to Get Away with Murder," the 2015 GLAAD report found. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Point Foundation.

Media representation matters because if and how we see ourselves in the world around us (including on our TV screens) helps shape our own self perceptions in big ways.

Paulson understands no one Emmy win or captivating speech can shift an industry overnight.

"It’s a complicated thing to talk about," Paulson said when asked about how her speech plays into the bigger theme of trailblazing LGBTQ women. "The issues this raises are big and important. I don’t want to give superficial answers."

But — thanks in part to actresses like Paulson, McKinnon, and Cox — more girls and young women can see themselves in their favorite TV series and the Emmy speeches that make history. And that's big.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less