** Warning: This article contains spoilers for “Pose.” **
While FX’s “Pose” may be set in 1990 this season, the themes resonate nearly 30 years later. Last night’s episode was a poignant send-off to Candy Ferocity, played by the incomparable Angelica Ross, a Black transgender actor and entrepreneur.
“It is with a heavy heart that we tell this very real story,” wrote Janet Mock, a lead creator behind the show, in a tweet. “People ask, "Why Candy?" Well it's because it's happening to so many trans women of color like her, and these women are the center of our show.”
If you aren’t familiar with the groundbreaking series, “Pose” is set in New York City and juxtaposes the house/ball scene against the tumultuous political and social climate of the '80s and '90s.
Candy is killed while engaging in survival sex work, struggling for enough money to provide food and pay the rent to support her house. Mock encouraged viewers to channel their mourning for the character into action for “other Candy girls,” drawing attention to the similarities of today’s lived experiences of far too many transgender women of color.
"Gays have rights, lesbians have rights, men have rights, women have rights, even animals have rights. How many of us have to die before the community recognizes that we are not expendable?" -Octavia St. Laurent #PoseFX— PoseFX (@PoseOnFX) July 10, 2019
“Now that this episode has aired, I hope to continue speaking in interviews and bringing context to Candy’s story, helping others realize that this is not just a piece of fiction, but very real for many trans women today,” said Ross, in an interview with Out Magazine.
Fun Fact: Candy’s funeral was a real sad & emotional moment because at this time 3 black transwomen died this very week. And we felt their loss in that very room. #PoseFX— �� T A T I A N N A ™️ (@thaofficialtati) July 10, 2019
At its heart, Pose is a show about family, showing the ways that we can build and choose a community that loves and values us for exactly who we are. With Candy’s biological parents initially unwilling to recognize their daughter’s truth, her chosen family from across houses fight to claim her body and give her the send-off she deserves.
Fans and members of the show alike took to social media to share their reactions to the moving episode.
Miss Candy’s story is all too real for Black trans girls and women. We’re always checking in on each other because we never know which moment could be our or our sister’s last. #PoseFX— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) July 10, 2019
I knew that at some point one of these women was going to meet a violent end. It’s the reality of what happened, and what *still* happens today. Makes me sad and sick. But this show is doing such important work in telling these stories. ������ @PoseOnFX #PoseFX— Matt Smith McCormick (@NaughtyOrNiche) July 10, 2019
The episode was a heart-wrenching reminder of the epidemic of violence against transgender people -- particularly transgender women of color -- a crisis that has gone on for far too long.
“So many of the women that are being killed are footnotes,” said show-runner Ryan Murphy in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “They’re not seen in life and they’re not seen in death, and they’re not appreciated, and their murders and their deaths go uninvestigated, and they’re a blip in the newspaper one day, or online, and they’re gone the next.”
Just this year, we know of the deaths of at least 11 Black transgender women, four of whom were killed in the last month alone.
“Don't waste your energy missing me,” urges Candy in the episode. “Spend that energy on a Candy girl out there. Beautify her in my stunning image.”
Chyna Gibson was the Candy Girl in my life. Murdered February 25, 2017 in New Orleans. 2 months before my wedding that she was scheduled to be in and 3 months before her reassignment surgery. She was so close. I miss her everyday. #POSEFX pic.twitter.com/5xoyzgpp34— RustinBrother (@HarrisonGuy) July 10, 2019
Thank you to the cast and crew of “Pose” for telling such a powerful story and reminding us to show up for our Black transgender family -- not just in death but also in life.
To Candy and to all the Candy girls.