In February 1994, Hollywood seemed to change for ever. Tom Hanks – the epitome of the American everyman – won a best actor Oscar for playing the out gay protagonist in a major studio movie.
In retrospect, Philadelphia looks a bit iffy. It is melodramatic, littered with tropes, and gets an awful lot of cathartic mileage out of the tragic martyrdom of its lead. Still, the tide appeared to have turned for good. Hollywood was not merely telling queer stories, it was rewarding them. Gay and lesbian roles were no longer something an agent would immediately bin; they were a fast track to kudos and awards.