As I’ve noted before, FX’s Pose not only entertains but is out here saving lives. That little young LGBTQ+ child who is confused about their existence and questioning their worth can now turn on their television or streaming service and be greeted with the knowledge that they aren’t alone in this world; that there are people out there who are just like them. For many, myself included, these types of programs did not really exist when growing up. We had shows like Noah’s Arc and Real Sex (and I know I wasn’t the only one watching Real Sex with Disney channel set to “last” on my remote in case my parents walked into my room.) A lot of people have spent many days feeling alone, now thanks to Pose, hopefully, that number dwindles.
Yet, even with this added level of representation, a lot of LGBTQ+ youth are constantly being kicked out of their homes for living their truths. In a recent interview, Janet Mock, one of the show’s writers and directors, shared that “40 percent of homeless youth are members of the LGBTQ+ community.”
In the show’s first season, Damon, played by Ryan Jamaal Swain, was kicked out of his parents’ home for being gay. His father didn’t accept him, and thus he was out on the streets wondering where his next meal was coming from. As he performed in the park, Blanca, played by Mj Rodriguez, found Damon and offered him a home. He was reluctant, presumably because she was a stranger and New York is not exactly the poster city for safety, but, out of desperation and hope, he accepted. Their relationship grew into that of a mother and son and through their ups and downs, they became family.
“A lot of LGBTQ+ members don’t have family support,” Rodriguez told The Root. She stated that children as young as 12-years-old are out on the streets looking for someone to guide them in a way that makes them feel whole. Rodriguez reiterated that many youths don’t have this support because “they have been ostracized from their families.” Pose, says Rodriguez, shows “that there are people out there who care for you, even when you think you’re not cared for.”
“The ways we are able to fill the gaps for one another in terms of resources that are imperative to our survival comes through our chosen families,” Mock added. The practice of choosing our families is one that has saved the lives of many in the LGBTQ+ space. Mock beautifully summarized that “we come together in moments of tragedy to create something triumphant.”
As the second season of this groundbreaking show comes to a close, we are reminded just how much the love for our families is imperative to our survival. “Blanca is using her kids to find the strength to push through her hurdles,” says Rodriguez of the season finale. It is through this love that she finds the will to live during a time where all she wants to do is throw in the towel. Due to her HIV-positive diagnosis, Blanca has become a slave to her body; her whole life has been a fight and she’s finally reached the point where she is truly tired of living in this constant state of battle. It is through her chosen family that she finds the strength to survive—and that survival allows her to continue to show up for future generations in ways others have shown up for her.
Pose affirms that there is power and healing that comes from supporting those whom we call family. Our chosen families have been instrumental in teaching us the right and wrongs of our community. They’ve kept us safe, provided us with love and made us feel seen; and for that, we are all better people for it.