For the past eight Sundays, mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of Pose. Ryan Murphy’s groundbreaking series traversed into unknown territory as he presented Trump’s America the first television show to feature five main trans actors – all being trans women of color.
Set in 1987 NYC, Pose followed the lives of black and brown members of the LGBTQ community. As they battled nightly at their fantastic balls, their days were spent striving for their dreams, love and livelihood. We witnessed their tears and triumphs against the odds and the best soundtrack money could buy.
1987 was a much different time as these women lived in the hidden crevices of the world. Many will have you believe the T in LGBTQ didn’t exist until Caitlyn Jenner flopped on E!. But these men and women scrutinized by both the hetero and homosexual communities have existed for centuries. The world is just now finally listening, not just with its eyes and ears, but with its heart.
The narrative is beautifully realistic, but manages to avoid any stereotypical tropes usually associated with LGBT stories. We never see the inexplicable violence these women encounter daily – however we know their lives are taken without any regard. The profession of sex work is present, but isn’t frowned upon and always includes a discussion of safety. And even when highlighting the then-bourgeoning HIV/AIDS crisis, it’s handled with care. Not as a death sentence. The writers were mindful to never forget these characters are first and foremost human, just like everyone else.
Apart from the brilliant writing, we received powerful performances from mainly newcomers. Indya Moore shines as Angel, the delicate-faced mistress to Evan Peters’ married Wall Street-dweller Stan. And MJ Rodriguez exudes a powerful strength as Blanca Evangelista – the new mother who doesn’t let life’s hardships dim her light.
A shining moment however is Billy Porter’s turn as ball master of ceremony, Pray Tell. His brutally honest commentary and reads are only outshined by the performance he gives as the beau to an ailing AIDS victim. The category is… Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and he deserves every award across the board.
On a personal note, I learned so much from this show. Growing up there were no shows depicting gay life – let alone the experience of black queer folk. I didn’t have someone from the community to seek advice or even explain the difference I knew I had as a child. A difference from other boys my age. A difference many could pick up on, even when I tried my damndest to conceal. A difference I’m still sculpting as an out man today. Pose helped me see I’m not the only different one, and that we are more than this quantifier.
While you may come for the 80s nostalgia in a pre-Trump America, you’ll stay for Pose’s relatable human drama and universal message of family. For it’s a family’s love that makes a house, home.