(l-r) Hailie Sahar, Angel Bismark Curiel, Indya Moore, Dyllon Burnside, Mj Rodriguez, Angelica Ross, Dominique Jackson, Ryan Jamaal Swain and Billy PorterPhoto: Roy Rochlin / Stringer (GETTY IMAGES)
When I was a wee, young, gay whippersnapper, I didn’t have any representation of myself on television. With this lack of being seen, I instead found myself in the various black women that paraded themselves ever so elegantly across my screens. These women showed me the power of resilience and strength, but there was always something lacking. I knew that the characters that I revered and I were different and that underlying difference made me want for more.
Fast-forward to present day, and now a younger generation of the LGBTQ+ community has been blessed with FX’s Pose! Pose fills the gap that my childhood suffered from. It gives youth in this community a chance to see themselves in ways I never envisioned possible. Yes, I eventually had Noah’s Arc and copious amounts of stereotypical gay characters to watch throughout my growth, but again, never did I imagine there would be a show that centered so many aspects of the community I am now proud to call home.
“Young people have reached out to me and have told me that Pose has saved their lives,” said teary-eyed show creator Steven Canals. During an interview with The Root during a set visit, Canals echoed my feeling that he would have spent less time in a closet if a show like Pose existed when he was growing up.
It was at that moment that I felt seen. Many LGBTQ+ community members live their lives ignorant to what is actually going on with them. They don’t have access to the help they need to be who the universe has called them to be and that makes many walk blindly through this world until chosen family comes in and helps them navigate this thing called life.
“It’s affirming to know that my work is inspiring and encouraging, it’s what I want my career to be about,” said Pose actor Indya Moore. Moore, who prefers “they” and “them” pronouns, stated that they are “affirmed by the way people connect to their character.” Moore went on to state the importance of representation for the trans community.
“We rarely see trans individuals in healthy spaces and rising,” Moore said, stating that this is pivotal for the trans community because it now shows how multilayered each individual truly is. Moore concluded by affirming that it is “beautiful to see growth that involves access to opportunities.”
Pose not only gives representation, but it’s an after-school special for those who may be ignorant about what ensues in the LGBTQ+ community. “Now that everyone knows what the ballroom scene is, we can move forward and touch on other topics,” says Janet Mock, writer, producer, and sometime director of the series.
Moore states that the show “holds family members accountable for the ways they treat their kids for the sexuality.” Moore, with passion and intensity in their eyes, noted that “the show gives a beautiful, clear, and real outlook as to what happens to your kids when you kick them out of your home and leave them with nothing.”
But with the birth of Pose comes cultural appropriation rearing its ugly head. Castmember Angelica Ross recalls seeing white girls charging for vogueing classes and profiting on the hard work of those who created this art form. Ross makes clear that “there is nothing wrong when other races want to vogue. What’s wrong is when you put a price-tag on it and profit off of the work of others.”
Basically, Ross is saying those unseasoned vagabonds don’t have a right to profit off of others’ work. Let the church say amen.
For many, like Pose’s Dominque Jackson, the ballroom community is where many LGBTQ+ members were raised. It is their home. Chosen family has been a factor that has saved the lives of many of us. The support that can be gained from these experiences are ones we will carry with us for a lifetime.
So, as you watch Pose, remember that this show is, in itself, a revolutionary act. Know that many have fought long and hard for us to make it to this moment in history. Yes, there is obviously more work to be done, but that does not negate the celebrations that should ensue from milestones such as these.
The second season of Pose premieres tonight on FX at 10:00 p.m. EST.