The Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ community have fought to be seen, heard and represented in mainstream media for decades. In 2018, the FX network premiered the television series “Pose” to highlight their lives and experiences.
“Pose” puts the spotlight on New York’s 1980s ballroom scene dominated by Black and Latinx legends and ferocious house mothers. The series highlights much more than the glam and luxury of the balls themselves. “Pose” shares the struggles Black and Latinx LBGTQ+ members had to, and continue to, overcome—more specifically, trans women. The series features the largest cast of trans talent as series regulars including Mj Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore, Hailie Sahar and Angelica Ross. With two beautifully written seasons under their belt and a third in the works, these women definitely deserve their flowers.
Emmys Snubbed Them… Again
The show scored five Emmy nominations this year, only one of which recognized a lead actor on the show: Billy Porter. Porter was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Pray Tell. He plays the catty, yet wise father figure of the ballroom. Porter won an Emmy in 2019 in the same category making him the first openly gay Black male nominee and winner of an acting category at the Emmys. However, we’ve yet to see any of his trans women castmates receive any recognition from the Television Academy.
The trans women of “Pose” had a great deal to say about nominations, presenting more perspective than just blaming the Academy.
“What do you want me to say? That the Television Academy is transphobic? Not quite,” Angelica Ross (Candy) shares in an IGTV post. “The reason I say ‘not quite’ is because we’re talking about our peers that are voting. So my peers thought none of the trans actors were worth nominating.”
Unsurprised by the nomination results, Indya Moore spoke her mind in a series of tweets, celebrating those who received nominations and praising her fellow cast and crew.
“Fam, ‘We’ came a long way,” Moore tweeted, shedding light on the lack of writing recognition for trans director, Janet Mock and series creator, Steven Canals. “Y’all look what @StevenCanals, a Black Puerto Rican from the Bronx, did gurl. He said our culture is a sensation and he gagged the whole earth and wrote ‘Pose.’
Trans Stories Carry the Series
Though Porter’s role in the series is undeniably important, there would be no “Pose” without his corresponding trans leads.
Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) is the tenacious, nurturing mother of the House Evangelista. Seeing how ballroom culture began to influence the mainstream, she pushed her children to seek new opportunities. Angel (Indya Moore) defies all odds as a trans woman of color when she decides to leave behind her life in the streets to pursue a modeling career. Elektra (Dominique Jackson) is the reigning champion of the ballroom and an iconic figure in the LGBTQ+ community. From the falling of House of Abundance, seeking refuge at Evangelista to re-establishing herself with the House of Wintour, Elektra shows unwavering strength and fierceness.
Each of the trans actors involved play a pivotal role in highlighting vulnerable truths about the Black and Latinx trans experiences. However, this issue is much bigger than an award. It’s about acknowledging trans people and their humanity. The talent and bravery of this cast created a voice for a community who’d been silenced for so long. They deserve to be recognized for their contributions. They deserve to be celebrated.