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Laverne Cox on Why Pose Is 'Vital' in a Time of Trans Erasure

Laverne Cox on Why Pose Is 'Vital' in a Time of Trans Erasure

Laverne Cox

The transgender icon reminded the audience at the Outfest Legacy Awards why loving representation matters in a world divided by hate.


Laverne Cox delivered a stirring speech on the importance of transgender representation.

The trans icon, speaking at the Outfest Legacy Awards Sunday, reminded the audience at Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles why a television series like Pose matters in today's anti-LGBTQ political climate, in which the Trump administration is reportedly preparing to erase federal recognition of transgender people.

"The current administration has taken numerous steps to legalize LGBTQ+ discrimination and their new push is to eliminate the recognition of transgender individuals altogether," Cox said. "But Pose reminds us these challenges are nothing new. And that LGBTQ+ folks have always found a way out of no way."

"This is why Pose is so important, so vital, not just to those of us directly impacted by what's happening," Cox continued. "But it's also vital to our country and to the world because while small-minded, fear-based people want to treat members of our community as less than, or worse, as not at all, this show is a testament to our existence and it's a prime-time education in the courage, perseverance, and love that is our community. Love is the message."

The FX series about 1980s ball culture in New York City made history this year in representation, as it broke a record for the highest number of trans actors portraying trans series regulars on television. At the event, Cox honored Pose cocreator Steven Canals, producers Janet Mock and Our Lady J, and actor Billy Porter, who were on hand to accept the Outfest Trailblazer Award.

To these folks, Cox sent "our thank-yous for breaking barriers, our thank-yous for changing the world. Thank you for elevating all of us. For with you, we rise. Congratulations on receiving the Legacy Trailblazer Award."

Upon accepting the award, Mock stressed that the "show is a reminder to the world that LGBTQ-plus people do not only exist, but that we only exist because it was trans women and trans people and gender-nonconforming folk who put their bodies on the line ... from Compton's Cafeteria to the Stonewall riots, trans folks saved us. ... And just because some refuse to see us and want to write us out of law does not mean we are going anywhere. Our experiences, our stories, our lives, we cannot be erased."

"Trans people cannot, should not do this work alone," stressed Canals, standing beside his transgender colleagues. "They need coconspirators. Now is the time for all of us cisgender folks to take action. We must speak out against the injustice that we are seeing and hold one another accountable and educate ourselves on the issues plaguing the trans community."

In addition to Cox, the honorees at the Outfest gala all delivered this unified message to the LGBTQ community: You will not be erased. Also honored Sunday evening was Justin Simien, the 35-year-old gay creator of Dear White People, Netflix's critically acclaimed series about race, gender, and sexuality at an elite school.

Additionally, Sony Pictures Classics -- and its cofounders, Tom Bernard and Michael Barker -- received Outfest's Corporate Trailblazer Award for distributing LGBTQ films like Call Me by Your Name, Capote, Kill Your Darlings, A Fantastic Woman, and Love Is Strange.

The ceremony in and of itself was a fundraiser the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project -- the only program in the world dedicated to preserving LGBTQ moving images. In an era when the very identities of LGBTQ people are threatened, this project is even more vital than ever.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.