CASSIUS - JUNE/JULY 2018 - ISSUE #12 - LGBTQ X HOLLYWOOD
FX Networks Presents: 'Pose' Ball

Source: Andrew Toth / Getty

FX’s new series Pose is breaking barriers for countless reasons. It’s the first time we’re seeing five out trans women of color starring in a television show. We’re seeing stories for and by trans women of color being told in a painful yet liberatingly authentic way.

Ryan Murphy, the executive producer and creator of the show, has put in the work by listening to the trans women of color on his team and creating a show that breaks barriers by authentically speaking to their experiences.

“It’s very interesting how change works,” Angelica Ross, who plays Candy on the show, tells CASSIUS. “When you actually put trans people, Black people, and people of color in the room where things are being collaborated on and created, it is made that much better.”

We wouldn’t have to find family if we were welcome in our own.

But, the most earth-shattering glass that Pose breaks is the mirror it holds up to the Black community’s homophobia and transphobia.

“The show is about finding family,” said Ross. “The thing is, we wouldn’t have to find family if we were welcome in our own.”

As a CEO and activist, Ross says she’s encountered many women like Candy in her work who struggle to fit high beauty standards for women and struggle with keeping a job. But many of these women are forced out on the street by their parents, adding to the epidemic of LGBTQ+ kids suffering from HIV and homelessness. She wishes that those with closed minds in the Black community would have a change of heart and work to rid the negativity and stereotypes that plague us.

Angelica Ross

Source: Courtesy of FX / Angelica Ross

“It’s not about passing blame, but it’s about understanding that when we make choices like this, we further these obstacles,” she said. “There’s a lot of conversation that needs to be had, but we can’t move forward until we all move forward. My Black community needs to see we’re so much stronger if we look at the resources we have.”

There are many stories to be told about Black trans people and the folks who are family, but we seem to not be ready to tell those stories.

While the conversation applies to the Black community at large, Ross said it’s also very applicable to Black Hollywood as well. She was on a panel with folks such as Amanda Seales and Lil Rel about the future of Black entertainment where she spoke on these matters:

“The moderator asked me how it feels to be making history on a show like Pose,” she said. “I was like, ‘Listen, it’s amazing and doing it with Ryan Murphy who basically knocks it out the park every time, I feel so honored and blessed. But I would love to be making history within my own Black community. There are many stories to be told about Black trans people and the folks who are family, but we seem to not be ready to tell those stories.'”

These types of stories are reflected in Ross’ own life. When the actress first came out, her own mother told her to commit suicide and eventually kicked her out of the house. While their relationship has since improved, Ross longs for a day when stories similar to her own–in which family members “re-learn” to love their children after coming out–make it to the big screen. She’s taking it into her own hands by writing these scripts herself.

“I tell my story because I’ve reached a place of understanding that everything needed to be the way it was so that things could be the way they are,” she explains. “We need a heartfelt model for mothers. The only way it’s going to happen is by sharing these stories and putting them on screen.”