Lift Up Your Hands: Outfest Honours John Cameron Mitchell With Its Achievement Award

Credit: New Line Cinema
Credit: New Line Cinema

Outfest has chosen to honour actor/ director/Hedwig creator John Cameron Mitchell with its 19th annual Outfest achievement award.

The award is the festival’s highest honour, and is presented to Mitchell in recognition of the film, Hedwig and the Angry Inch‘s contribution to the LGBTQ movement.

Christopher Racster, interim executive director of Outfest, said in a statement: “John Cameron Mitchell’s iconic creation of Hedwig almost two decades ago was a groundbreaking piece exploring transgender lives. Ever since then, John has been able to push boundaries on stage and screen, and by doing so leaving an indelible mark on the LGBT community and mainstream audiences alike. We can’t think of a more deserving recipient of this year’s achievement award, and hope that John will continue to inspire us to get our wig out of the box.”

Mitchell declared it an honour to receive the award. “What an honor to get an award that went to folks that were my queer forebears, formerly heroes and later friends: Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, Christine Vachon and Ian McKellen. As Harry Hay told us, queer people contribute to the world by their unique way of seeing the world, through a prism of fluid gender, which challenges the world to integrate male and female energies into a single harmonious human energy that transcends labels. Outfest celebrates that way of seeing.”

Hedwig and the Angry Inch‘s biggest achievement, in my opinion, has been to bring a transgender character into the mainstream. I have forced this film upon many people over the years, and all have come away with the same opinion. It’s ultimately a really good film. The music is great, the storyline is funny, yet sad, angry and utterly compelling, and Mitchell himself embodies Hedwig completely.

The stage show has also done great work in showing audiences that it’s okay to be ‘different’, it’s okay to put yourself out there, to strive to be who you want to be, not who you feel society is telling you to be. It’s okay to laugh, to cry, to joke about all the issues Hedwig faces because ultimately she is the same as anyone watching her story, be it on stage or screen. She is a woman with her own problems and issues to overcome. She is a woman who is hurting, but she is a woman who loves, and wants to be loved in return.

Plus, she can really sing.

Huge congratulations to Mitchell on this outstanding and very well-deserved recognition. Clearly, no one’s going to tear him down.