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Arts Entertainment

What to watch: "Pose"

"Pose" is a series set in the 1980's that explores the Ball culture as well as what life was like for black and brown queer/non-binary folks and transgender women of color in New York City.

FX Networks

"Pose" is a series that is set in the 1980's. The show explores the Ball culture that took place during that era as well as what life was like for black and brown queer/non-binary folks and transgender women of color in New York City. "Pose" currently features the largest cast of transgender actors appearing in series regular roles and the largest recurring cast of LGBTQ actors ever for a scripted series.

Initially, when I saw the first episode of this show, I immediately thought of the 1991 documentary film titled "Paris is Burning." The depiction of ball culture and the portrayal of the characters (largely centered on black and brown queer/non-binary folks and transgender women of color) is what made me feel this way. But there are big differences and similarities that make them stand alone. However, the overall message of them both is what has stayed constant and is a message that everyone needs to hear and see.

Black and brown transgender women of color and queer/non-binary folks are heavily discriminated against in society. Largely by cisgender and cisgender-heterosexual people who lack the understanding that black and brown transgender women and queer folks are individuals who deserve to feel seen and heard. This series highlights many of the ways black and brown transgender women of color, queer, and non-binary folks were discriminated against in New York City during the 1980's. But it hurts to know that a lot of what they experienced during the 1980's is still happening today, which is why this series is so important. "Pose" touches on numerous issues surrounding the queer/non-binary folks, and transgender communities especially in regards to those who are black and brown (as well as issues that also affect the LGBTQ community). Those issues being colorism, "passing," romantic relationships, body dysphoria, sexually transmitted diseases (HIV and AIDS), societal pressures, sex education, and homophobic/transphobic parents who often physically and verbally abuse their children who are LGBTQ. But the main issues that were centered in the first season of this series are the politics surrounding HIV and AIDS during the 1980's and the feeling of abandonment that black and brown queer/non-binary folks, and transgender women of color often face from their families. The discussions around these topics and the way that they are discussed on screen is powerful.

HIV and AIDS are often associated with shame and trauma but it is a product of generational grief and pain. This topic during the 1980's was seen as taboo and there wasn't a lot of education around it. The show highlighted how HIV and AIDS patients were treated in medical institutions, which was incredibly disturbing and disgusting. Medicine that was given to HIV and AIDS patients was oftentimes killing them. Essentially those who were treated for sexually transmitted diseases were dehumanized. Especially black and brown queer and transgender people of color. They were living in fear. Fear that if they were to be diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, that they'd be ultimately stigmatized and neglected.

Many black and brown transgender women and queer/non-binary people of color are often kicked out of their homes, experience abuse, or are denied the care that they need from their parents. For any young LGBTQ person of color living in a home with homophobic and transphobic parents is incredibly difficult, frustrating, and in many cases is blatantly unsafe. These parents often deny their child's right to figure out and experience who they are through gender expression, sexuality, and identity.

There's more to discuss and unpack about this series that is incredibly important in understanding black and brown queer/non-binary folks and transgender women of color. I recommend that everyone watch this show. There is only one season and this show needs as many people as possible to tune in so that it is renewed for another. Representation matters as well as the need to be educated on issues surrounding the LGBTQ community. "Pose" currently airs every Sunday at nine p.m. eastern on FX.

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