- Lena Waithe – an actor, producer, and the first black woman to win an Emmy for writing in a comedy series – wore a rainbow cape to the 2018 Met Gala.
- Along with Rihanna’s papal ensemble, Waithe’s outfit arguably created the most buzz at the event.
- Waithe – the only celebrity to wear an outfit with a political statement – broke tradition at the religious-themed event.
- According to Waithe, she wanted to show support for the LGBT community and highlight the Catholic church’s fraught relationship with it.
On Monday, the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute hosted its annual gala, where hundreds of celebrities, designers, and tech moguls showed up to see the museum’s new exhibition.
This year’s exhibition is “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” which includes more than 40 religious items that explore Catholicism’s influence on fashion.
The famous attendees had different interpretations of the theme, but one stood out among the rest. While most women came in diamond-adorned gowns, producer and actor Lena Waithe draped a rainbow cape over her black suit.
Breaking Met tradition, Waithe was one of the only celebrities with an outfit that made a political statement. In an interview with Vogue, Waithe explained that she wanted to show support for the LGBT community as the Catholic church continues to have a fraught relationship with homosexuality.
In Waithe’s Emmy speech, she talked about putting on imaginary capes, but at the gala, she wore a literal one.
“Tonight, this cape is not imaginary, it’s rainbow-colored,” she told Vogue. “And we got the black and brown [stripes], you know. I’m reppin’ my community, and I want everybody to know that you can be whoever you are and be completely proud, so . . . Wear the damn cape.”
Waithe’s cape – symbolizing intersectional LGBT pride – is a big deal. In the past four months, the Trump administration has, in the name of religious freedom, made moves to dismantle several LGBT-friendly policies.
In January, the White House created a religious liberty division, which aims to defend health workers who have religious objections to treating LGBT patients. A month later, the nation’s health department halted and rolled back regulations intended to protect LGBT patients and workers, removed LGBT language from documents, and reassigned the senior adviser dedicated to LGBT health.
On May 3, Trump signed an executive order backing “faith initiatives” that will work on religious liberty issues across every federal agency. LGBT advocates see the move as another federal action that could encourage discrimination against LGBT people – from the workplace to the doctor’s office – in the name of religion.
Waithe’s rainbow cape was a bold choice for the Met Gala, an event known for its avant garde (and rarely political) fashion. But then again, Waithe – the only black woman to win an Emmy for writing in a comedy series – is used to being a trailblazer.
“This is like my skin, I’m proud to be in it,” she told The New York Times. “I’ve got the community on my back to make sure they know I’ve got them all the time … The theme to me is like be yourself. You were made in God’s image, right?”