The actor and screenwriter used her outfit to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, a group that has historically been marginalised by the Catholic Church.
To quote a tweet that went semi-viral on Monday night, the Met Gala is like Halloween for rich people: an annual opportunity for the world’s biggest stars to get extravagantly, thematically dressed up. The theme of this year’s event was ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’, prompting a flood of female celebrities in halo headdresses, crucifix jewellery and golden gowns. Zendaya came as Joan of Arc; Katy Perry was an angel; Rihanna, of course, styled herself as the Pope.
Amid all this pomp and circumstance, Lena Waithe’s Met look was a breath of fresh air. The actor, screenwriter and producer, who last year became the first black woman to win an Emmy for her writing on the sitcom Master of None, walked up the steps at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a sharp black Carolina Herrera tuxedo – over which she swung an enormous, glittering rainbow cape.
Waithe, who identifies as queer, said that she wanted to remind people of the Catholic Church’s complex relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.
Her outfit was a callback to her Emmys acceptance speech, she explained, in which she called on her “LGBTQIA family” to “put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world”.
On the Met red carpet, Waithe told Vogue: “Tonight, this cape is not imaginary, it’s rainbow-coloured.” She pointed out that her cape also included black and brown stripes, a nod to queer people of colour.
“I’m reppin’ my community, and I want everybody to know that you can be whoever you are, and be completely proud, and be doin’ it, so… Wear the damn cape!”
Speaking to The New York Times, Waithe added that the rainbow flag “is like my skin, I’m proud to be in it. I’ve got the community on my back to make sure they know I’ve got them all the time.”
Given that the Catholic Church has a long history of marginalising LGBTQ+ people, it feels entirely appropriate – and genuinely inspiring – for Waithe to use fashion to make a statement of queer solidarity at an event celebrating Catholic style. Wear the damn cape, Lena!
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