In 2018 tv producer Ryan Murphy, the man who brought us “Glee” and “American Horror Story”, set out to tell a different kind of narrative than one might have expected. The show “POSE” was created to explore the vibrant history of queer people of color in New York City during the 80’s. This show faces head-0n the struggles of trans women of color, as well as the legacy and culture of the queer ballroom scene, but most importantly shows how womanhood cannot be strictly defined by society. The trans women in this show exemplify how sisterhood, motherhood, and womanhood can be embodied, no matter how one’s culture may try to exclude her.
After the Stonewall Riots in the late 60’s, a protest lead by trans women, ballroom culture grew even greater among queer people of color. Where ballroom had originally been established by white gay men, and excluded most others in the queer community, Black queens created their own ballroom culture that became a home for all identities. They were set up to be inclusive, safe spaces for all involved.
“POSE” is able to show this history and impact through the story of Blanca Evangelista, a trans woman who starts her journey as a house mother. House mothers were women of the ballroom scene who would house, feed, and care for some of the younger participants who might have run away from or been kicked out of their biological homes. Played by trans star, MJ Rodriguez, Blanca is a strong, powerful, protective mother. She keeps her children in line and encourages them towards success along the way. Blanca is a true example of a mother, and not simply within the ballroom.
Since the beginning of history, trans women have been neglected as sisters, mothers, and women. “POSE” should stand as an example of how trans women truly need to be recognized. Blanca and the women she is surrounded by each exemplify womanhood at its core. This women’s history month it is vital to recognize all the women who have continuously been excluded from this honor.
Image description: Blanca Evangelista, played by trans actress MJ Rodriguez, embodies motherhood and femininity in the show “Pose”.