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. 

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Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

Entertainment

Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

There are few queer characters the people can point to in the past as being someone that changed their lives. Santana Lopez, Naya Rivera’s character on “Glee,” is one of them. Even if you’ve never watched “Glee,” Rivera’s character touched you because of how that representation is so important and empowering.

Naya Rivera’s place in LGBTQ+ media representation will be her long-lasting legacy.

Rivera brought us Santana Lopez, a queer Latina navigating the world of high school in a small town. For many, this kind of representation was so rare and often poorly done that Rivera’s command of the role was impactful. You didn’t have to be an avid viewer of the show to understand and appreciate the magnitude of Santana Lopez.

Rivera brought our experience directly to the mainstream and forced our own classmates to think about the way they saw queer people.

Rivera’s ability to capture the awkwardness and terror of being a closeted queer student in high school still resonates. It is a piece of nostalgia that is so deeply ingrained in queer people that it’s hard not to be emotional about Rivera’s sudden and tragic death.

Who can forget the moment Santana used “Landslide” to tell Brittany that she loved her.

The emotion of a love that is not easy to confess and live authentically is real. Ask any queer person you know about coming to terms with her sexuality in high school and you will hear about the fear and excitement. You will hear about the strategic allyships that epitomize the constant battle between being open and staying safe.

Rivera was more than an actress, she was an ally and advocate during her time on “Glee.”

Season 2, when Rivera’s feelings for Brittany (played by Heather Morris) grew, aired from 2010 to 2011. It was a time when marriage equality was not nationwide. Some states still barred same-sex couples from adopting children. Yet, queer high school and college students had a chance to see their experience mirrored because of Rivera’s insistence.

Rivera’s death is a major loss for the queer community that got our strength and courage from her.

Knowing that all of the “Glee” fans were rooting for and falling in love with Santana Lopez gave us a chance to breathe and feel accepted. Adding her Latina heritage was so important. Queer people of color, who have faced increased scrutiny from their own families, had someone representing them completely and sincerely.

Demi Lovato paid tribute by remembering the time she played Santana Lopez’s girlfriend.

The queer Latina love was not lost on fellow queer Latinos. Lovato herself was not out about her sexuality at the time and she admits in her post that Rivera inspired her. Rivera’s efforts to give the character an accurate and respectful storyline will forever be praised and admired as a fully realized manifestation of our experience.

Thank you for being someone we didn’t know we needed, Naya.

Our hearts are broken and our eyes are wet. We send love and hope to your loved ones. Rest in power, mija. We love you and will never forget what you did for our community.

READ: Naya Rivera’s Body Found In Lake Piru After Going Missing During Outing With Son

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Here Is A Brief History Of The Modern Gay Pride Flag

Culture

Here Is A Brief History Of The Modern Gay Pride Flag

Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

The 6-stripe rainbow flag has become the most visible and recognizable symbol of the LGBTQ+ community. Much like the LGBTQ+ community, the flag has endured decades of changes, meanings, and significance. Here’s a brief guide to the history of the modern pride flag.

We all know the current Gay Pride Flag.

Public Domain

The 6-stripe gay pride flag is the most recognizable symbol of the LGBTQ+ community. The stripes each have their own meaning. Red is Life, Orange is Healing, Yellow is Sunlight, Green is Nature, Blue is Serenity, and Purple is Spirit. It is hard to look around in June and not see the rainbow being incorporated into everything around you to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

Yet, the flag has a longer history than the widespread acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in recent years. The first pride flag was created 42 years ago on June 25, 2020. The first flag flew at the first San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. Before the rainbow flag, the gay community used the upsidedown pink triangle used on homosexuals during the Holocaust.

The first gay pride flag had eight colors: hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo, and purple.

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Hot pink stood for sex and turquoise stood for magic/art. The flag was created by Gilbert Baker in the late 1970s following the assassination of Harvey Milk. Milk was an openly gay man who was holding an elected office in San Francisco. His assassination sparked anger and outrage from the LGBTQ+ community and the rainbow flag became a symbol for the Gay Rights movement.

By 1979, the flag underwent two moderations removing the hot pink and turquoise stripes while making indigo a royal blue.

Public Domain

The flag was altered in 1979 to accommodate a pride parade in San Francisco. The organizers of the pride parade wanted to use the flag to mark the start and finish of the parade route by breaking up the flag hot pink had already been removed. The result was the removal of turquoise to make it an even number.

For decades, the 6-stripe flag stood as the symbol of the Gay Rights movement. There were legal battles fought for the right to freely display that flag in public places. It has also been used as a sign of protest against various governments and their anti-LGBTQ+ policies.

Philadelphia adopted a revised flag in 2017 that has since caught on at a larger scale.

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The new 8-stripe Pride flag includes a black stripe and brown stripe at the top. The new colors are meant to represent people of color who are often ignored in the larger LGBTQ+ community. There was push back from some people saying that the new flag was divisive and unnecessary yet it continues to spread in popularity, especially among people of color.

LGBTQ+ people of color are disproportionately affected by issues such as HIV and AIDS rates, deadly violence, and homelessness. The two stripes were added to bring attention to these issues and was hailed by many LGBTQ+ activists of color.

The most recent version of the flag showing up more and more comes from designer Daniel Quasar.

Credit: danielquasar / Instagram

Quasar’s revised version of the pride flag includes Philadelphia’s addition of the black and brown flag and includes the trans flag. It is supposed to represent progress. The black, brown, blue, pink, and white colors from an arrow forward to symbolize progress happening and still needed in the LGBTQ+ community.

READ: Here Are Some Queer Films And Shows To Watch To Start Pride Off Right

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