Jessica Chastain won the best actress Oscar on Sunday night for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and used the moment to highlight an issue close to the heart of the woman she portrayed.
Chastain took up the mantle of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, the late TV evangelist who would later become a champion for the LGBTQ+ community, saying “We’re faced with discriminatory and bigoted legislation that is sweeping our country, with the only goal of further dividing us.”
Many interpreted that to be a reference to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation in some classrooms.
Chastain went on to mention “the violence and hate crimes being perpetuated on innocent civilians all over the world.”
“In times like this, I think of Tammy and I’m inspired by her radical acts of love,” Chastain said. “I’m inspired by her passion. I see it as a guiding principle that leads us forward, and it connects us all in the desire that we want to be accepted for who we are, accepted for who we love, and to live a life without the fear of violence or terror.”
It was the first Academy Award win for Chastain.
Messner died in 2007 following a more than decade long battle with cancer. She was 65.