New FX drama Pose is taking trans and drag culture mainstream

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US network FX is making history with primetime TV show Pose, featuring one of the most diverse LGBTI casts to date.

The drama series, created by American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Steven Canals, premiered on 3 June. It follows characters in 1980s New York, shedding a light on the ball culture and the transgender community.

Actor Indya Moore in a scene of Pose | Photo: Pose/ FX.

The series has received praise from critics and audiences alike. Particularly, prominent names of the LGBTI community took to Twitter to show their appreciation.

Australian pop singer and drag queen Courtney Act tweeted: ‘Know that every time you say “werk”, “reading”, “shade”, “10’s 10’s 10’s across the board”, every time you take it to the runway, or give executive realness, that it was first said and done by a black trans woman at a voguing ball in NYC in the 80’s.’

Openly bisexual singer and actor Janelle Monáe also appears to be a fan of the show.

The ball subculture

Ball culture is an LGBTI subculture in the US where people compete for prizes. Walking a ball include showing off skills, such as dancing in drag. Fashion is key, of course: a theme is given and contestants have to dress accordingly, borrowing from other genders and social groups.

Those who ‘walk’ at balls belong to houses, groups acting like substitute families for young LGBTI people turned away from their own parents.

Moreover, Pose’s storylines also aim to fight taboos around underrepresented segments of the LGBTI scene. Significantly, Pose focuses on black characters and tackles difficult issues, such as HIV diagnosis and discrimination experienced by trans women.

Writer Janet Mock: ‘Tell one person you love to watch it’

Trans rights activist Janet Mock is among the writers of the series, together with Transparent’s screenwriter Our Lady J. Before last night’s (10 June) episode, she made a plea to the audience to spread the word about the show.

Five transgender actors in the cast

The cast couldn’t be more inclusive. Five transgender actors – MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar, and Angelica Ross – are the protagonists alongside a few names well-known to AHS aficionados, such as Evan Peters. Additional cast members include Kate Mara, Billy Porter, James Van Der Beek, Ryan Jamaal Swain, Charlayne Woodard, and Angel Bismark Curiel.

Pose airs every Sunday on FX.

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