Congratulations are in order for Nick Offerman, who received Best Supporting Actor in a New Scripted Series for HBO’s The Last of Us at the 2024 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

When accepting the award at the ceremony (25 February), Offerman called out the “homophobic” backlash of “hate” that came from his appearance on the show.

Offerman opened his acceptance speech by praising the streamer for platforming the post-apocalyptic drama: “Thank you so much. I’m astonished to be in this category, which is bananas. Thanks to HBO for having the guts to participate in this storytelling tradition that is truly independent.”

The actor then hit out at anti-LGBTQIA+ viewers who questioned “why” the series included a “gay story”: “We say, ‘Because you ask questions like that. It’s not a gay story it’s a love story, you a**hole!’”

Released in 2023, HBO’s adaptation of the popular Naughty Dog game franchise was met with widespread critical acclaim.

The Last of Us stars Pedro Pascal as Joel, a smuggler who is forced to travel across the US with Ellie (Bella Ramsey), a teenager who is immune to the virus that is transforming the population into mutated, zombified creatures.

The acclaimed gay love story portrayed by Offerman and Murray Bartlett featured in episode three of the beloved series. Throughout the episode, viewers follow the couple over the duration of their relationship together as they protect their home from raiders and the “infected”.

The episode, scripted by Craig Mazin and directed by Peter Hoar, garnered a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has since been hailed as one of the best episodes in television history.

Last summer, Offerman told the i that he was “fascinated by how openly people will express hate and brand themselves as bigots”: “I kept thinking: ‘We can see you! Because here were men saying: ‘I’m a father and a Christian and a patriot and I hate queers.’ We’re basically punishing people for loving wrong.”

Earlier this year, Offerman also received his first Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.

In doing so he beat his co-star – or should we say co-lover – Bartlett, who was also nominated, before addressing speculation about a potential prequel to further explore the love story of their characters.

“Thank you to the Academy for this pat on the back and for even counting me among my fellow nominees, especially my magnificently generous partner and rightly lauded Aussie top man – the Girth from Perth – Murray Bartlett,” the actor remarked during his speech, “without whom it would have been awfully tough to pull off a beautiful, richly-veined 2-hander.”

He continued to thank HBO and Carolyn Strauss, executive producer, for “continuing to produce wildly entertaining programs like this that arc toward decency and inclusivity.”

Watch Nick Offerman’s full speech below.