On the cusp of June, Pride month, I finished watching “Pose” (yes, I know I’m late); the critically-acclaimed, and much lauded show from Ryan Murphy that told the story of ball culture during the late 1980s in New York.  



I was floored and blown away.  The show not only showcased and celebrated the ballroom culture in a more serious light (and less like a campy joke… <cough, cough> RuPaul’s Drag Race), the show boasts the largest cast of transgender persons of any show.  The show struck a very deep chord with me; not only because of its stellar writing, amazing storytelling, and perfect collection of music reminiscent of the 80s, but also because it was one of the few instances where I see myself on the screen (and not a caricature or degrading stereotype.)



One of the episodes that immediately hit me hard was the second episode, “Access”, where Bianca Evangelista, mother of the new House of Evangelista, is discriminated against in a gay club for being trans.  While in the club, she is called several transphobic slurs, misgendered with the wrong pronouns, and even physically accosted while simply seeking service and a drink at the bar.  


The sad thing is that even more than 30 years later, this story is still one being played out.  


I remember being out in downtown L.A., with one of my best friends, and being denied access to an establishment frequented by gay men.  And even with my friend causing a commotion, I was still denied access.  As I looked around, other gay men around didn’t bother stepping in to defend me; or even come to my aid as my identity was insulted and mocked (being referenced and alluded to as a “drag queen” instead of “transgender”.)


I put that incident in the back of my mind, until I watched that episode of “Pose”, and realized that as a black trans woman, there is still no real ally ship or connection with the greater LGBTQI community.  


This Pride month marks the 50thanniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the riots, initiated by black and brown transgender (and gender-nonconforming) persons, that started the marches and protests that eventually led to the current Pride celebrations. Even as trans women (especially black and brown) have been at the forefront of LGBTQI social activism and the fight for social equity, they seem to be left behind and forgotten by the community.  Black and brown trans women are literally being murdered and killed, and yet the deafening silence from the community speaks way louder than the protests or the call to action.  The LGBTQI community would rather claim ignorance or turn a blind eye than to defend their trans sisters’ lives and rights.  


Some of the worst intersectional transphobia and misogynoir has been from within the community; whether it’s been their silence or their indirect jokes, subtle comments, and mockery.  


To look and see the harassment that Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera faced, and fought against, only to see transphobia and harassment as portrayed 20 years later on “Pose”, and then to see the very real transphobia, both within and outside of the community, alive today just shows that even as we gain more visibility, black and brown trans women are still facing a very steep uphill battle for basic human rights and liberties.  


Art imitating life is one thing, but art imitating life from 30 years ago that still resembles life today. Well, that’s an entirely different story altogether.