Pose is an American television drama series that features the largest ensemble of transgender actors ever cast in series regular roles. The show is set in 1980s New York City and focuses on Black and Latino LGBTQ and gender non-conforming ballroom culture.
The show stars Dominique Jackson, who plays fierce house “mother” Elektra Abundance. MJ Rodriguez stars as Blanca, Elektra’s compassionate house “child” who breaks out to form her own house, Evangelista, and challenge Elektra for the “mother of the year” title at the balls. The show also features Indya Moore and Ryan Jamaal Swain as Blanca’s house children, as well as her friends, Candy, played by Angelica Ross. Lastly, Emmy winner Billy Porter plays Pray Tell, who is an emcee at the balls.
As remarkable as the cast is, the crew is just impressive. Steven canals, Co-Creator and Executive Producer of Pose is the first Latinx producer to be nominated for a tv drama. Additionally, Co-executive Producer Janet Mock and Supervising Producer Our Lady J are the first Emmy-nominated trans producers in history. Mock is also the former editor of People’s magazine and current contributing editor for Marie Claire. Our Lady J is a singer-songwriter and the first openly trans woman to perform at Carnegie Hall.
Pose is a unique show because LGBTQIA stories are finally being told outside the perspectives of cis white men and women. The magic of the show is that transgender and gender-variant narratives are being authentically brought back to life by people who shared their experiences.
What I love about Pose is that it is a space where everyone is represented and celebrated. It is a welcoming platform for young boys and girls who are figuring out their identities. Pose tells us that we are all valid, regardless of how we look or identify.
We live in a time where people often get stuck in a bubble of comfort. As a result, they are less likely to spend time exploring cultures outside of their own. Pose is changing this by starting conversations and encouraging people to question their beliefs.
Billy Porter once said, “Tolerance and acceptance are two energies that require me to accept validation from the outside. I no longer need that. What I demand is your respect for my humanity.”
People should watch Pose because Black and brown trans and queer visibility in mainstream television is essential. The show sends a message that trans men and women are incredible, strong, beautiful, and worthy of value. By watching the show, audience members not only enjoy an insight into an unprecedented era of New York history, the peak of the HIV/AIDS crisis, they also learn more about a marginalized group of people without feeling like they are being talked at or forced into a political conversation.
This impact is the power of diverse and inclusive art. Artists can create narratives and an energy that is not political, but merely truthful. When done correctly, shows such as Pose have the unique opportunity to reach people’s hearts and minds and change them from the inside out. The rhetoric that artists should not have an opinion regarding social issues is entirely false because we have seen the way movies and television can change lives.
We’ve come a long way. Today, thanks to the modification of the 1964 Civil Rights Act on June 15, 2020, gay, lesbian, and transgender employees can no longer be discriminated against or fired based on their sex. But the harsh reality is that trans men and women are still being killed, beaten, and harassed outside of the workplace. Over and over again, the story is the same. Another body is found, their names are eventually forgotten, and they hardly ever receive the justice they deserve.
We can stop this, but it will require everyone’s energy, resources, and voices to create a lasting change. Allyship is essential; read books, challenge kitchen table conversations within your home and communities, and invest time-fighting systemic injustice regularly.
Pose taught me that we can always choose to be kind, loving, understanding, and inclusive. Art plays an integral part in breaking down stigmas people have created in their heads; it will always be at the forefront of speaking truth to power. If you decide to watch Pose, you will see that love always wins. It might take some time, but love will overcome anything.
Bio’s of the Cast and Crew: https://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/pose/cast-crew/mj-rodriguez-blanca-rodriguez
Scenes from the first few episodes to encourage you to watch!
Season 1 Episode 1 15:53
Season 1 Episode 2 42:10
Season 1 Episode 3 1:35
Season 1 Episode 4 26:00
Transgender Resources List:
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)
Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC)
GLAAD’s Transgender Media Program
Featured photo credit to Sarah Shatz/FX