Pose is Ryan Murphy’s newest show. Unlike anything else on television, Pose delves deeply into Black and Latinx ballroom culture and provides a glimpse into the lives of Black and Brown trans and homosexual people in New York City. Do yourself a favor and watch Pose.
The entire resistance and perseverance of the LGBTQ movement is because of transgender Black and non Black Latinx women. It was Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera whom were so fed up with the over-policing and violence that LBGTQ people faced in what was supposed to be a safe space in Manhattan, that they started a riot. A riot born of righteous anger and deep love for their community to disrupt the pattern of violence they experienced by police.
Pose takes the essence of this love letter started by Rivera and Johnson in 1969 in lower Manhattan and picks up in lower Manhattan 10 years later in the 1980’s. Essentially the children of these revolutionary mothers are navigating life, relationships, society, love, and public health concerns like HIV/AIDS to create a world that is all their own. The second season of Pose jumps forward to the 90’s and follows our several protagonists on their lives journeys.
Creating a show that is authentic and true to the Black and Hispanic transgender and gay experience is only possible through intentional casting in front and behind the camera. Black trans rights activist Janet Mock is a writer for the show; the legendary late father of The House of Xtravaganza, Hector Xtravaganza served as a consultant to the show; and the breathtakingly dance talent Afro Puerto Rican Leiomy Maldonado choreographed some of the ballroom dance scenes in Pose.
By all accounts and purposes, Pose is employing the most Black and Latinx trans and gay people on television to date.
Another reason to love Pose is the amount of Black Latinx power in the casting. Two of the shows most loved protagonist, Blanca (played by MJ Rodriguez) and Angel (played by Indya Moore) are Black Latinx women. Additionally, Aphrodite played by Alexia Garcia adds to the line up of Afro Latinx power of the show.
At its core, Pose is a show about the complexly human experiences of Black trans women, something that is gravely missing from of cultural memory lexicon. As a culture we rarely hear about Black trans women living, thriving, and experiencing life. Often times the only opportunity we hear about Black trans women is when they have been murdered for simply existing. All of the characters on Pose are grappling with employment, being “other” in the LGBTQIA community because of being trans and or Black, and relentless pursuit of the life one desires and deserves even when they world says they don’t.
Pose teaches us that family comes in many ways, that forgiveness is possible, and that with a community of people that want to see you win around you anything is possible. Most importantly Pose is the continuation of the love letter of resistance through existence and joy that Rivera and Johnson started in 1969. Pose shows us that in both the past and the present Black and Latinx trans women are deserving of life, joy, and an existence free of violence and hate.
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