Steven Canals on How Growing Up as a Queer Afro-Latino in 1980s Bronx Prepared Him to Write ‘Pose’

No one was more pleasantly surprised by the warm response to FX’s Pose than its creator, Steven Canals. The Bronx-born writer always had faith in the idea for this show, which told the story of a group of people associated with the ballroom scene in the late 1980s in New York City. But two years of trying (and failing) to get the show picked up and developed took its toll. By the time the show premiered in June 2018 with the backing of Ryan Murphy and boasting the largest cast of transgender actors on any show in United States television history, including Indya Moore and MJ Rodriguez, Canals kept thinking it was all going to come crashing down. “I think that there’s just a part of me that was waiting for the shoe to drop at any point,” he shared with Remezcla. “I kept waiting for either Ryan or FX, to say, ‘Yeah, just kidding, this is actually not the show that we want to make.’ I think that all of those rejections that I had heard for two years had just really started to permeate my brain.” He needn’t have worried: upon its premiere, the show was rightly hailed for its fabulous and empathetic treatment of trans and queer people of color. And just this past week, soon after the show’s second season premiered to its highest ratings yet, FX renewed the show for a third season.

Any fears that a show centered on black and Latina trans women, HIV-positive gay men of color, and runaway young homeless teens wouldn’t find an audience were thankfully unfounded. If anything, Pose fans continue to reach out to Canals and remind him why he was initially so adamant about telling this story about a disenfranchised community that nonetheless found ways to survive, thrive, and find beauty in an art form like vogueing that many to this day still associate with Madonna and not with the ballroom community that first birthed it.

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