Alex Newell and J. Harrison Ghee have made LGBTQ+ history at this year’s Tony Awards.

On 11 June, West Side Story star Ariana DeBose took to New York City’s United Palace stage to host the 76th annual Tony Awards – which featured appearances from Jessica Chastain, Sara Bareilles, Josh Groban, Stephanie Hsu, and more.

While the evening was full of showstopping performances from the casts of & Juliet and Kimberly Akimbo, it also featured history-making moments from Broadway stars like Ghee and Newell – who became the first openly non-binary talents to win acting prizes at the Tony Awards.

During the ceremony, Newell won “Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical” for their portrayal of whiskey distiller Lulu in Shucked the Musical.

“I have wanted this my entire life. Mommy, I love you. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, thank you for teaching me what strength is,” Newell tearfully exclaimed during their acceptance speech.

“To my entire building and cast and crew of Shucked, you are my rock. I love you all. Thank you for seeing me Broadway. I should not be up here as a queer, non-binary, fat, Black, little baby from Massachusetts.

“And to anyone that thinks that they can’t do it, I’m going to look you dead in your face that you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Shortly after the Glee star’s monumental win, Ghee made LGBTQ+ history again when they won “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical” for their portrayal of Jerry/Daphne in Some Like It Hot.

Like Newell, the Raising Dion star kicked off their speech with heartfelt words for their mother.

“My mother raised me to understand that the gifts God gave me were not about me. To use them to be effective in the world. To help in someone else’s journey. So thank you for teaching me how to live, how to love, how to give,” they said.

Towards the end of their speech, Ghee tearfully dedicated their award to “every trans, nonbinary, gender nonconforming human – who was told they couldn’t be seen.”

Shortly after Ghee and Newell’s groundbreaking wins, fans flocked to social media to shower the two talents with praise.


Another fan tweeted: “Alex Newell and J. Harrison Ghee making history as the first openly non-binary actors to be nominated for and WIN Tony Awards!!!!!!!!!!! Happy Pride.”