Happy Pride Month!
This is the month where we celebrate our lovely lesbians, gorgeous gays, beautiful bisexuals, top-notch trans men and women, and all of our queers, drags, cross-dressers, and everyone in every aspect of the LGBT community. This month, more than ever, is the perfect time to discuss issues with the LGBT community; such as race, class, body image, and self-expression. While the LGBT community is becoming increasingly more accepted by younger generations (some older ones as well) and there is some representation of it, there’s still a void that needs to be fulfilled. When it comes to the LGBT community and the media, we (the black community) have way less representation that our white counterparts. Paris is Burning will always be a beloved film and a standard classic amongst queer people of color, but after that, we don’t have much. Yes, we have a few episodes here and there from tv shows in the 90s, we have Noah’s Arc, we have a few contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and we currently have Jamal on Empire. Characters and episodes are nice, but when you sit back and look at the whole perspective, people of color only make up 10% of the LGBT representation on TV (if that, maybe even less). Many queer people of color in media never got a chance to be the frontman of their own story. So many characters are also reduced to stereotypical and, to be quite honest, predictable narratives.
I believe, however, 2018 will be the year of change across all groups in need of representation, including black and brown LGBT community. Thanks to social media, I found out about two shows that will open America’s eyes, and kick down the door for the much-needed discussions amongst LGBT youth and LGBT people of color.
On Viceland, the show, My House, a reality show set in New York City, captures the real-life trials and tribulations of the New York Ballroom and House scene. From being scouted by different ballroom houses, feuds within the ballroom scene, insecurities within the newcomers, even getting the opportunity to vogue in fashion shows, My House gives us a multi-dimensional view of the ballroom scene and the life outside of it. It shows that the cast, and people like them, they are real people, working real jobs, dealing with real-life issues, and facing real discrimination for their sexuality and gender expression. What I find fascinating about the show is that all spectrums of the LGBT community are represented; from the feminine gays, the beautiful representation of trans people, the gender-bending rappers, to even the masculine gay men who don’t look like the “stereotypical” gay man. It’s easy for someone to find themselves within at least one character.
My House slays and gives us a modern view of the ballroom scene and gay community, but a show on FX gives us a glimpse of history in the making; a new show has emerged, taking place during the golden era of the ballroom scene. FX’s Pose tells the story of a young transwoman who takes matters into her own hands and creates her own ballroom house. While creating the house, she also becomes a mentor and opens her home as a safe haven for LGBT who may be in need of a better life. The theatrical show not only put the history of the ballroom scene in America’s homes, but the show also depicts how LGBT youth become homeless, what some LGBT youth do to stay alive, and how much the ballroom scene and vogue houses are much more than a way to dance and compete, it becomes a lifestyle, it becomes a place for those who haven’t been nurtured to be nurtured. Pose is already making history by being the first show with a predominately transgender cast.
Paris is Burning set the standard for how LGBT communities should be portrayed. 27 years later, Pose and My House has taken ballroom and the gay community to new heights; heights that the participants and creators of Paris are Burning probably didn’t think it would go. As we celebrate Pride month, we must remember the black and brown queer people who fought for the rights and create the spaces we use (and has indirectly become commercialize) today. While we celebrate Pride, let’s honor and help those in the LGBT community who need a shoulder to lean on and a way out of poverty and homophobic living conditions. If we’re going to preach and yell “black lives matter”, we have to protect and take care of our LGBT brothers and sisters as well.
You can check out My House on Viceland, Wednesday nights at 10:30 EST, and you can check out Pose Sunday nights at 9 PM EST.
You better work!