Entertainment

‘Pose’ Is Going Where Few Shows Have Gone Before And It’s Thanks To Afro-Latino Co-Creator Steven Canals

Pose is unlike any other show on television. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the series’ esteemed accolades. Last month, Pose earned six Emmy nominations. Co-creator Steven Canals will be the first Latinx producer ever nominated for a drama Emmy. It is the first show that features a predominately POC and LGBTQ+ cast and crew to be nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. Writers Janet Mock and Lady J are the first Emmy-nominated trans producers. Meanwhile, Billy Porter is the first openly gay black person to be nominated for Outstanding Lead in a Drama Series. 

This is a lot of firsts. None of which could be possible without the Bronx-born Latinx, Steven Canals drawing from his experiences growing up in New York City. Pose shows that when LGBTQ folks and people of color are given the space to tell their own stories, people will watch. 

Pose is magic.

Credit: poseonfx / Instagram

Pose follows the lives of black and Latinx transwomen and queer men as they strive for autonomy, identity, and community through ballroom culture in 1980s and 1990s New York City. The series is visually stunning and emotionally gripping. Watching MJ Rodriguez as Blanca trying to do right by her chosen family, which is made up of other LGBTQ+ folks who’ve been rejected by their biological families and society at large, is like watching any mama trying to do right by her young. The themes are relatable, but the stories are fresh, new, and insightful because they focus on queer experiences that are too often relegated to the fringes of culture. 

Basically, what I am saying is stream Pose on FXNOW or Netflix. 

A new Latinx visionary. 

Credit: svcanals / Instagram

Steven Canals grew up in The Bronx in the 1980s. After spending years in higher education, riddled with self-doubt about whether he could compete in Hollywood, Canals finally decided to pursue his dreams. 

“And so finally, after five years, I was so tired of beating myself up and just so happened upon a career quiz that suggested I become a screenwriter. I sat with that for a little bit, and then about a week or so later I discovered UCLA’s online screenwriting program on a random film blog. I immediately applied, was accepted, and enrolled in the program while still working on-campus full-time,” Canals told Buzzfeed

Canals experienced homophobia and bullying from his peers while navigating the homophobic propaganda presented in the mainstream media in the 1980s. 

“Obviously I like being a queer person now, but [in the ’80s and ’90s] I either couldn’t or didn’t want to see what some people were seeing in me because there were no LGBTQ role models that could point to and say, ‘Look, it’s fine.’ [To me, this community] was still living under the cloud that was HIV, AIDS, homophobia, and just so much misinformation,” he said. 

That feeling when you get to see yourself on screen.

Credit: poseonfx / Instagram

Canals based Damon’s character, a young queer dancer with big dreams and a difficult home life, on himself. The characters of Blanca and Helena were based on the strong women he had in his life. 

“There are a lot of very strong, independent, and complicated women in Pose and it comes out of having spent an entire life being surrounded by women who are all of those things,” Canals said.

Latinx representation is sorely lacking.  A study by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that 47 percent of the 1,200 surveyed films did not have any Latinx speaking roles. Only 3 percent of the highest-grossing movies from 2007 to 2018 had a Latinx actor as a lead or co-lead. Only 17 out of 1,200 films had a Latinx woman in a leading role. Moreover, the study notes that fair-skinned Latinx actors are expected to portray white characters, while Afro-Latinx actors are expected to play black American characters. In both cases, Latinx identity is erased. 

LGBTQ+ representation hit a record high in 2018, with 8.8% of TV characters identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, according to GLAAD’s annual TV diversity report. For the first time, LGBTQ+ people of color outnumbered white LGBTQ+ characters. However, this is largely due to the singular effort of Pose. 

“GLAAD counted 26 trans characters on TV, which is nine more than last year. A significant percentage of that progress was driven by Ryan Murphy’s new series Pose on FX, which has five new trans characters,” according to the Verge.  

The power of diversity on and off-screen.

Credit: poseonfx / Instagram

The cast and crew of Pose have had a transformative effect on representation. The show has queer people telling stories from queer history with allusions to the infamous drag queen and fashion designer Dorian Corey to a slew of consultants whose real lives revolve around drag and ballroom culture. 

“That’s why it was so critically important for us at Pose to have the [actual] ballroom community be part of our process and the show’s narrative as consultants, choreographers, and experts, not just providing a seat at the table but also compensating them for taking a seat,” Canals said. 

Latinos Know How To Celebrate The Holidays, But Some Of The Traditions Might Be Too Weird For Gringos

Culture

Latinos Know How To Celebrate The Holidays, But Some Of The Traditions Might Be Too Weird For Gringos

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Navidad for Latino families is a very different affair to Christmas in Anglo culture. For once, the religious aspect is much more prevalent, as Catholicism is the predominant belief and the birth of Jesus is possibly the most important date of the year (save, perhaps, the death of said religious figure in Semana Santa). Navidad among Latinos both in the United States and throughout Latin America is full of quirky family traditions that both make it more solemn and more fun. Some of these traditions are of course heritage from the Spanish colonial years,  but each country and even each family has put their own little twist. 

New Year’s Eve is also a very lively celebration that includes some strange and fun mumbo jumbo that is totally normal for many of us but might be a bit too peculiar for others. 

So here are some traditions that might get your gringo Xmas or New Year’s date running out the door!

Actually nothing says holiday season in a Latino family like the Guadalupe-Reyes marathon.

Credit: Screenshot. KeepCalmAndPosters.com

They say honesty is the best policy, right? Well, this isn’t an actual sporting event but the official start of the holiday season. The “marathon” is an eating and drinking fest that runs from the day of the Virgin of Guadalupe in December 12 until January 6, the day of the Reyes Magos or Three Wise Men. Get your stomach and your liver ready. En sus marcas, listos, fuera…  

When all the familias bring their Baby Jesus figurine and rock them all together as if they were real babies.

Credit: Digital Post

Let’s not forget the massive one that recently went viral in Mexico…

Also dressing Baby Jesus in all sorts of outlandish costumes.

Credit: @EldeForma / Giphy

Sorry (not sorry!) this can be a bit sacrilegious for some, but this gif was just too good not to share.  

Well, this is actually the sort of costume they put on Baby Jesus.

Credit: Mercado Libre

Abuelitas all over Mexico flood markets to find the best dress maker for their Baby Jesus. There is a non-spoken rivalry among households that abuelitas settle by making Baby Jesus look like a tiny Liberace (sorry, but it is true!). 

Sing the traditional Posada… or more like mumble the words hoping that the chismosos de la familia don’t figure it out.

Credit: Yucatan Holidays

The traditional posada is a song where the guests are split into two groups. One remains inside the house while the other braces the cold and stays outside. One group is supposed to represent Mary and Joseph asking to be let in, the other group takes the place of the homeowners who are not too sure to let strangers in. There is a back and forth and finally the strangers are let in and everyone sings “Entren santos peregrinos”. We are sure that half the party is mumbling the words. Hey, they even got some Latin! 

Now it is New Year’s Eve and you better wear your chones rojos.

Credit: Ali Express

Legend goes that if you want to enjoy a good sex life in the coming year, you need to wear red underwear to welcome the coming calendar. Supermarkets and department stores in Latin America are bursting with red men’s underpants and women’s lingerie. Rest assured if you bring a gringo date to the New Year’s fiesta, your primos will make sure they feel uncomfortable as hell my asking them whether they are wearing chones rojos or not! Awkward alert!

And you better be ready to haul those empty suitcases around the block at the strike of midnight!

We kid you not. Wanna have plenty of travelling in the coming year? Well, get your empty suitcases ready and take a walk around the block with them. If you think about a destination then your trip might come true. Wanna have a sexy escapade? Wear your red underwear while dragging the luggage! Makes all the sense in the world, right? Just be careful not to wake up the neighbours… come to think about it chances are they are dragging their empty maletas as well. 

Swipe away the bad vibes! Afuera lo malo, que venga lo bueno!

Every year has its ups and downs. So whether you like it or not there is some bad juju that has accumulated in your household. You clearly wanna start the year afresh and the only way to do this is to swipe off las malas vibras. Just go to the entrance of your house, pour some water on the floor and expel it to the outside world! Now, we don’t know if this is metaphysically effective or not, but it sure is cathartic.  

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

Culture

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

indyamoore / Instagram

While we’re in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to note how the outdated term “Latinidad” excludes a large portion of the Latino community. We’re talking about the existence of indigenous and Black Latinos. The “Hispanic” label specifically includes those from Spain, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month feels completely weird if you’re Afro or indigenous. 

There’s been more of an uproar recently between Hispanic, Latinos, and Afro-Latinos after musical artist Rosalia got awards and praise for her music as a Latin artist. The thing is that she isn’t Latina, she’s Spanish. That entire debacle was just another nail in the coffin that proves how white-washed our society is, and it’s not just coming from Caucasians but Latinos as well. 

People on social media are using the hashtag #LatinidadIsCancelled to discuss anti-Blackness in the Latino community. Not to mention, how society, in general, discriminates against Black Latinos when referring to Latinos as a whole demographic.

Journalist Felice León did a brilliant segment for The Root titled, “Black and Indigenous Millennials Are Cancelling Latinidad” in which she discusses how Black Latinos are not included under the Latinidad umbrella.

“Latinidad just really just centers on the shared history and shared culture, but doesn’t necessarily, like, delve into all of those multifaceted identities,” writer Janel Martinez told León and added she’s straying from the term Latinidad. “And for me, Latinidad ultimately serves white cis-gendered, straight, wealthy men.” Martinez continued, “I am none of those things, so for me, I’m at the margins of this term.”

While we know Latinos are already excluded from significantly from TV and film, the ones that are visible are mostly white Latinos. 

Credit: @TheRoot / Twitter

You ever noticed how the most popular Latino celebs are light-skinned? We’re talking Jennifer Lopez, Camila Cabello, Gina Rodriguez, America Ferrera, Rosalia and that’s just when referring to the women.

The topic of canceling Latinidad shows how racist our own people are against Black Latinos. 

Credit: @EnLatinidad / Twitter

Ever notice how some Latinos praise a baby that is born with light skin and blue eyes? Or how they object to someone dating a Black man? It is a sentiment that has been part of the Latino community for a very long time.

Afro-Latinos face so much discrimination because of their ancestors, their dark skin, and their hair. 

Credit: @juni0r973 / Twitter

How can a group of Latinos fit nicely and perfectly under the Latinidad family if some people there clearly don’t want to include Black Latinos? It’s kind of sad how light-skinned Latinos favor their whiteness as superiority. Black is beautiful. When will the Latino community finally realize that? Thanks to the inclusion of Black Latinos in the media, we’re able to see the representation even though it’s still quite limited.

The exclusion of Black Latinos could also be seen in this year’s Latin Grammy nominations, which excluded a lot of reggaeton artists. 

Credit: @rosangelica4u / Twitter

Another hashtag making the rounds on the internet included #SinReggaetonNoHayLatinGrammy after several artists spoke out against the Grammy’s exclusion of reggaeton artists. The most nominations this year went to two Spanish artists, Rosalia and Alejandro Sanz

While we know some Latinos are racist against their own people, it’s important to know that colonized societies have been white-washed and that cycle continues to this day. 

Credit: @themermacorn / Twitter

How do we break a cycle of racism against our own people? By educating ourselves about the history of our diaspora, and not by closing our eyes to the reality of colonization. We’re not perfect people, but we can learn to be more inclusive by realizing our own hate and blindness. The blatant and longstanding practice of ignoring the Afro and indigenous identities within the Latino community has justifiably left so many people done with Latinidad.

It’s funny how Rosalia was beloved from day one until she starting owning her Latinidad on a public stage. 

Credit: @elliottraylassi / Twitter

During her acceptance speech at this year’s MTV VMAs, Rosalia said, “Wow. I wasn’t expecting this, honestly. Thank you, because it’s such an incredible honor. I come from Barcelona. I’m so happy to be here representing where I come from and representing my culture. … Thank you for allowing me to perform tonight singing in Spanish.”

So if she said she’s representing where she came from, which is Spain, she is certainly not Latina so why is she cradled into that group so openly?

As one person put it nicely on Twitter, @gacd86 writes, “Latinidad isn’t just for white Latinos though. Mestizos participate in the normalization of anti-blackness and the benefit of the exploitation of indigenous communities.” The rampant and dangerous anti-Blackness in the Latino community needs to stop now.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month.

READ: Spain Has Colonized The 2019 Latin Grammys And Latino Twitter Has Some Serious Thoughts