9 Potential Oscars Hosts to Replace Kevin Hart

As Kevin Hart learned last night, in the immortal words of Academy Award winner and Charm School host Mo’Nique, when you do clownery, the clown comes back to bite. As such, after the internet pointed out that he had quite a few homophobic tweets in his past, Kevin Hart chose to step down from his gig hosting the 2019 Oscar telecast.  

Since the announcement, the internet has broken out their best gumshoe skills in search of someone else to host the ceremony. (The Golden Globes don’t have that problem, having already made the inspired decision to tap Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg to host their ceremony.)  

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So, who should host the ceremony? Well, when I was thinking about potential replacements, and peeping names other people offered on the internet, a few requirements came to mind: they have to be funny, they should be beloved and, obviously, the replacement should also be Black. Given the nature of the controversy, it would also help if the person chosen was a member of the LGBTQ community.

Here are nine potential picks that could get the room warmed up while we wait for Regina King to collect her statue for best supporting actress.

Whoopi Goldberg

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Whoopi was the natural first choice for a lot of people. She has a lot of the requisite characteristics that one would need to helm the Gay Super Bowl. She’s a previous Oscar winner who has hosted the ceremony four times already. Also, while she’s a comedian, her humor is more retro than newfangled and definitely will aim to please rather than bite.

Mo’Nique

If we’re talking about Black Oscar winners who know how to make people laugh, look no further than Mo’Nique. She’s never hosted the Oscars before, but she has plenty of skills hosting a contentious room — look no further than her triumphant turn as the host of VH1’s inaugural run of Charm School. Mo’Nique spent much of 2018 on an amazing press tour convincing Hollywood to take note of the worth of Black women, especially Black female comedians. Giving one of the most decorated comedians in history a platform to remind us all how much she makes us laugh would be a testament to that.  

Tiffany Haddish

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Haddish was one of the first names to pop up in earnest on everyone’s Twitter feeds. Haddish is a critically acclaimed actress and comedian who also feels like something of a Hollywood prom queen right now. She’s extremely beloved and is the definition of a crowd pleaser. The Hollywood Reporter pointed out that people were mad that she mispronounced some names when she announced the nominations for last year’s awards, but here’s the thing: they wouldn’t have been mad if she were a white man.

Wanda Sykes

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Sykes is one of the biggest names in comedy. She’s also the most visible Black LGBTQ comedian in the world. If you’re looking for the perfect person to step in after the Hart controversy, there’s really no name more perfect than Sykes. Also, Sykes’ comedy would definitely strike the right tone for the ceremony. She’s not afraid to be political and everyone’s going to be in the mood to poke fun at Trump. Sykes will go there, even if people boo.  

Maya Rudolph

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When a New York Times profile about you says that you look like God, then it’s pretty clear that you’re operating on a different level from the rest of us. And the person who garnered that description is master comedian Maya Rudolph, who has made us laugh in almost every medium possible. She does everything: she can act *and* sing (I’ve seen her perform twice in her Prince cover band and I still haven’t recovered). Also, lest we forget, Rudolph is an exceptional dramatic actress. Here’s your semi-annual reminder to watch Away We Go.

Trevor Noah

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While I’d rather a woman take the stage, there are a few people who have expressed a desire to see Trevor Noah take the stage. The choice makes sense on a few levels. Jon Stewart hosted the ceremonies twice and given that Noah was chosen to succeed Stewart on the Daily Show, an Oscar-hosting gig doesn’t seem too far behind. But, still, Noah doesn’t seem to have the universal goodwill that Stewart had.

Tituss Burgess

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If the Academy really wanted to show that it was on the gays’ side the whole time, Burgess could be a sign that they’re willing to put their glitter where their mouth is. Burgess has a ton of internet clout, but he’s starting to amass industry clout as well. In September, he joined RuPaul, Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon and more on stage for a star-studded opening Emmys number. Was it an audition?

Jaboukie Young-White

If you’re talking about internet clout, no one has amassed a more fervent internet fandom faster than comedian and Daily Show correspondent Jaboukie Young-White, whose comedy is unapologetically queer. But, Young-White doesn’t seem to have the industry gravitas or respect that one needs to have in order to actually get the hosting gig. But, there’s a future in which the Twitter king can one day take the stage.

Tracee Ellis Ross

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Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Well, Tracee Ellis Ross. The award-winning actress definitely has more of a television background (her last film was the 2009 Lindsay Lohan-led Labor Pains) but no one could make an audience feel more at ease than one of TV’s best moms. She’s also the daughter of an icon — and an Academy Award nominee for Lady Sings the Blues.

‘Overwatch’s New Halloween Skins Are The Best Ever, But The Game Mode Is Boring AF

Halloween is still a couple weeks away, but as per usual, the festivities started a few weeks early. For video game fans, that means the various video game Halloween events throughout the month. Most online games like World of Warcraft, Fortnite and Destiny 2 have seasonal events that take place throughout the month of October. The games usually present new activities and cosmetics that can only be collected during these few events, so it can be a really exciting time.

Overwatch, as the gayest shooter game in existence, is no exception to bringing in seasonal excitement. Every Halloween so far, Overwatch has put together a collection of new skins for some of their heroes for their players to earn through playing the game. In addition to the skins, the seasonal events for Overwatch also come with a new game mode to play. Unfortunately though, unlike the skins, the new game mode is exactly the same every year — and it’s gotten pretty stale.

This discrepancy wouldn’t be such a big deal if the new skins weren’t so great, but they are. This year’s Halloween skins are probably the best we’ve seen from any of the three years they’ve had the event.

We have Swamp Monster Doomfist who everyone thinks looks like the fish husband from The Shape of Water. Doomfist skins up until this point have all been pretty directly tied to his character and personality: West African, crime boss, etc. This one is the first that feels totally out of left field and original.

Sombra’s Bride skin, inspired by the bride of Frankenstein’s monster, is also pretty unique for her and is a huge hit among the gays. It has a classic element to it and fulfills everyone’s fantasy of being a zombie bride with a submachine gun.

Pharah’s Enchanted Armor skin is really cool and is not only unique to Pharah, but has unique characteristics from any skin in the game. First off, she has no head when she takes off her helmet. It’s literally just an empty space where her head should be. Also, her body falls apart into different segments whenever she dies.

All of the skins are really well designed and don’t feel repetitive, which is difficult to accomplish after three years of events. Which is why it’s so troubling that the game mode doesn’t seem to match. Every year, we’re given Junkenstein’s Revenge, a game that pins the players against AI enemies while they try to defend a castle. Every game lasts about ten minutes and involves a repetitive onslaught of mindless Zomnics every round.

There’s almost no incentive to revisit the mode except to attain certain achievements. Players can unlock specific cosmetics if the castle they’re defending takes no damage. However, beyond that, the game has little replay value.

In a developer update video the game director of Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan, talked about this complaint that the player base was having. The developer team is reportedly aware of players’ issues with the event. But then he goes on to say that nothing’s going to change. Kaplan explained that with their development resources they have to choose to either create temporary game modes for the seasonal events or put time towards creating new heroes and maps and other permanent additions to the game.

If it was between the two, players will of course choose the permanent additions to the game — who doesn’t want new heroes and maps every few months? Some in the player base are frustrated because in their view, Blizzard is a big company that should be able to build a team with resources for both long term projects and seasonal content.

With that aside, though, there also seemed to be some missed opportunities even working with what the game already has. The big one is the lack of diverse enemies in the game. With Sombra now having a Bride skin, why doesn’t she show up during the Junkenstein’s Revenge? In fact, none of the characters that have been spookified for this event show up during the game — it’s the exact same.

It’s little stuff like this that makes the player base feel as if the developers don’t care that much about the event. In general, the requests of the players around the event aren’t too unreasonable, so hopefully Blizzard will find the time next year to give us something new.

Taylor Swift Comes Out In Support of Democratic Candidates After Stealing All That MAGA Money

Move over Joanne, there’s a new head scammer in town.

Taylor Swift, best known for her music and for reclaiming the snake emoji, made waves on the internet Sunday evening when she broke her political silence and came out in support of Democratic candidates Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper, both running in her home state of Tennessee. She cited LGBTQ rights and women’s rights as reasons for backing the Democrats.

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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

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“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” Swift wrote. “I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country.”

She continued, “I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.”

As Swift said, she has received immense criticism in the past for keeping mum on politics, leading many to believe that she supported Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. Swift has also gotten into some political trouble for her lack of explicitly progressive ideas. When she launched her own app in 2017, it quickly devolved into a homophobic, right-wing hot mess. And she did herself no favors by silencing a blogger who pointed out the growing fandom Swift has in the alt-right community.

By the way, 4Chan users were VERY upset to hear about a lefty Tay Tay. Fox News’ Fox & Friends even argued that someone else wrote the post for her and that she “got some very bad information.” Charlie Kirk even said that he loved when she “stayed away from politics” and was only about the music. Because women are better silent!

Some people online also pointed out that Swift pulled a great scam in taking MAGA money then coming out against the GOP.

A lot of people also pointed out the irony that Kanye West has gone full MAGA and Swift overnight became a positive social media talking point for a change.

Oh Tay Tay, never stop scamming. 

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Leslie Jones and RuPaul Brought Plenty of ‘Drag Race’ Jokes to 2018 Emmys Telecast

For anyone who has spent any time on Leslie Jones Twitter, it’s very clear to see that the Saturday Night Live comedian *loves* herself some RuPaul’s Drag Race. During Monday night’s Emmys telecast, Jones got to share the stage with RuPaul as they presented Regina King the award for outstanding lead actress in a limited series.

The two upped the level of usual TV banter inherent in awards shows with a special Drag Race-themed tete-a-tete.

“Leslie and I have something in common,” RuPaul said.

“Yass! We both love the show RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Jones added. “That show is so fierce. That’s why we’ve given all the nominees a drag name!”

The names included Sir lady Alec Baldwin, Miss Johnson Leguizamo, Louie “The Tuck” Anderson, and Sandra Oh-No-She-Betta-Do!

Last month, Access Hollywood gave Jones a special gift when they aired a special message to the Ghostbusters actress from RuPaul herself.

Jones’ commentary on the show has been priceless. 

The duo’s presentation also gave us something priceless: Jones’ reaction to Regina King winning her third Emmy.

Jones has been nominated twice for an Emmy for her work on Saturday Night Live.

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Merritt Wever Wins Emmy for Playing Queer Character on ‘Godless’

Emmy winner Merritt Wever transformed into two-time Emmy winner Merritt Wever Monday. Wever won the Emmy for best supporting actress in a limited series or TV movie for her role of Mary Agnes McNue on the Netflix limited series Godless.

After a mining accident takes the lives of most of the men in the town of La Belle, Mary Agnes takes the reins of the town. She also begins a romance with Callie (Tess Frazer), a former sex worker who becomes the town’s school teacher.

As Indiewire pointed out, though most Westerns project a totally hetero image, the reality is that the West was totally queer.

“I read some books that [a historian] suggested, and I was glad for the context,” Wever told Indiewire. “I was curious as to whether the way we think about sexuality and gender now is the way people thought about it back then. And from the material he directed me to, it was different… I don’t think it was uncommon and that it had more to do with being different, being an outsider, upsetting the herd. People didn’t like when you rocked the status quo.”

While the film has gotten some plaudits for its portrayal of queer women, INTO’s Jill Gutowitz criticized the show for falling into a trap of presenting queerness only as an alternative when there aren’t any men around.

“Though La Belle is actually inhabited by menso many, in fact, that the protagonists of the show are malethe idea is there,” she wrote, “in a utopian society where men don’t exist or are infrequent, women start dating each other.”

Wever previously won an Emmy for her role on Nurse Jackie and delivered one of the shortest speeches in awards show history.

“Thank you so much,” she said. “Thank you so much. I gotta go, bye.”

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‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Finally Won the Goddamn Emmy

Someone call CeCe Peniston because … finally … it’s happened to Ru!

RuPaul, Michelle Visage and a slew of producers took home the award for outstanding reality competition program during Monday night’s Emmy Awards telecast.

“Thank you so much, this is so lovely,” RuPaul said, gripping the golden statue in his hand. “Thank you so much. Thank you to the academy, this is so lovely. We are so happy to present this show. I would like to thank you on behalf of the 140 drag queens we’ve released into the wild.”

Drag Race took home the trophy for its tenth season, which featured iconic queens like The Vixen and season 10 winner Aquaria. Notably, The Vixen was the star of the clip played during the Emmys telecast while the show’s name was announced as a nominee.

Several of the show’s fans were psyched that The Vixen made it onto the Emmys telecast.

As RuPaul accepted the award, he dedicated it to “all the dreamers out there.” The reality television host played a bit part in the show’s opening musical number and presented an award alongside Drag Race megafan and Saturday Night Live comedian Leslie Jones.

RuPaul signed off by delivering her iconic closing line: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an ‘Amen!’ up in here? Now, let the music play!”  

Drag Race had previously been nominated in the category, losing to The Voice. RuPaul has won the Emmy for outstanding reality competition host three times in a row over the last three years. 

Steven Canals Wants to Build Hollywood a Brand New Boat

On a Saturday afternoon in Hollywood, a room filled with Latino filmmakers, producers and general Hollywood types hangs on Steven Canals’ every word. We’re sitting in neat rows of chairs in a hotel conference room at the official 2018 media summit for the National Association of Latino Independent Producers and everyone wants to know more about Canals, the queer Afro-Latinx creator of Pose, but even more, people want to know how it all happened.

They want to know how Pose made its way onto one of television’s hottest channels and how Canals came to work with TV mega producer Ryan Murphy, who became Pose’s executive producer. They want to know how Canals overcame the number of doors slammed in his face. They want to know how something so queer, so black and so brown somehow made it onto our screens.

Pose’s very existence is impressive. But the true miracle, Canals insists, is that queer people get to make it. It features the largest cast of transgender actors ever assembled. The show’s own Janet Mock is the first trans woman to write, direct and produce a television series. At every level of creation in front of and behind the camera, queer people mold the show. And before its season finale aired, FX announced a second season.

“I’m concerned not so much with ‘Are the stories being told?’ but who is telling the story,” he says to applause. “I think we have not been allowed in the room to tell our own narratives.”

He specifically cites the importance of his Pose trans collaborators Mock and Our Lady J, who also writes and produces.

“For us to have a seat at the table to tell that story, that’s progress,” he adds. “That’s how you’re going to see narratives that will open up discourse in healthy, critical way. For too long, that hasn’t been happening.”

Canals discusses serious complex realities like colorism, transphobia and intersectionality all while making everyone, including myself, guffaw. Pose is a serious show — it tackles the lives of black and brown queer and trans people living through the simultaneous epidemics of poverty, HIV and drugs in 1980s New York City. But Canals is all smiles and levity. He draws laughter out of you. It’s a skill he wields in public as he continues to speak in support of the fledgling series that could.

He’s the writer, executive producer and creator of one of the queer community’s favorite shows, but in his sneakers, glasses and enamel pin-laden denim jacket, he just looks like familia. When his fellow panelist (and One Day At a Time star) Isabella Gomez tells a story about her friend “Rita,” and clarifies that she means “Rita Moreno,” Canals lifts his mic up and says, “Girl, we know.” The room and his fellow panelists burst into even deeper laughter.

As magnetic as Canals is, he’s also adept at sharing credit. He possesses an uncanny generosity that lends itself perfectly to Pose’s ethos. He’s not just about making sure his story is told: he wants to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table. When audience members and panelists praise Pose, he makes sure the audience walks away hearing the names Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Janet Mock, and Our Lady J. He speaks about his fellow producers like the characters on Pose might discuss the House of Evangelista — with love. Later, in private, he jokes that the writers’ room dubbed itself the House of Murphy.

During its first season, Pose jostled its way onto every queer person’s calendar, their Twitter fingers going into overdrive every Sunday night to discuss the show’s characters and the complex psychological world they dared to inhabit. But, how did Canals go from working as a student affairs administrator in eastern Pennsylvania to tweeting along with his #PoseFamily every Sunday night in only a few short years?

The show’s origin story, it turns out, is shade.

In 2012, Canals was a college administrator at a university in Pennsylvania. A resident assistant during his undergraduate years, he was unsure if a career behind the camera called to him — and several professors dissuaded him from his artistic pursuits. He fell into student affairs and worked in a campus multicultural office telling students that they should be their best selves. All the while, he ignored his own creative impulses.

“I felt like a fraud,” Canals said to me in his Los Angeles home. His apartment is uncluttered and open. The most dominating visual in the room is a big book bearing Keith Haring’s name. He also wore a t-shirt with the legendary gay artist’s recognizable figures on the chest. He’s laid out cheese, grapes and preserves.  His denim jacket and my own were hanging side-by-side next to the door.

One evening, an art professor invited Canals to a soiree at his apartment with other artists. Canals said another creative approached him and asked him, “What’s your art?” At that moment, the art professor happened to be walking by and muttered, “He’s not an artist.”

Canals called the moment “soul crushing.”

“I’d never given myself the label of ‘artist,’ but at that moment, having it taken away from me, it didn’t feel good,” he said. He had contemplated returning to school for some time and, within a month of the incident, he turned in his application to UCLA’s MFA screenwriting program.

Pose didn’t come to life until Canals’ final semester in the program. Burnt out from writing features, he felt his idea well had run dry. All he had in his back pocket, he thought, was a semi-autobiographical piece about Bronx in the 1980s. But it didn’t feel right. A graduate program in screenwriting, he says, is all about branding, and he had branded himself as the gritty, urban scribe. The story seemed to fit his brand, but it wasn’t the right moment.

“At the time, I didn’t have the confidence as a writer,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was the person who should tell the story or if I was ready to tell it.” On a walk near campus, his friend, The Magicians writer Noga Landau, prodded him until he realized his back pocket held one more idea.

In 2004, as an undergraduate at Binghamton University, Canals watched Paris Is Burning for the first time. The film stuck with him not only for its historical significance, but for the potential of even more stories in the world its director Jennie Livingston chronicled. Later, as he walked through the residence halls a name popped into his head — Damon, the name of a young boy who would move to New York City and enter the ball culture.

Canals, and Hollywood, slept on Paris Is Burning for a long time. At one point, Precious director Lee Daniels was meant to helm a musical version of the film for television. And prior to Pose, Murphy bought the rights to Livingston’s documentary, set on making another hit TV show based off its characters.

Ten years after watching Burning in class, Canals wrote the pilot for Pose in just 10 weeks.

Canals is a natural storyteller. To hear him answer a question is to be brought to another world. His answers contain beginnings, middles and ends. When I ask him about being a writer, his whole family plays the cast in his answer.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Canals let his parents turn him into a genre cinephile. He learned story from a steady diet of highbrow popcorn flicks like Terminator 2, Alien, and Aliens, movies his father loved. His mother, an educator, read to him at night. Sometimes, she concocted his bedtime stories in her own head. Canals’ media leash was long.

“They let me watch whatever and we’d have a conversation about it after,” Canals said. “Nothing was off limits.”

Even in play, Canals couldn’t leave story behind. While other kids played freeform with their action figures, Canals invented scenarios and crafted yarns for his Thundercats and Ninja Turtles figures.

“I used to suck the fun out of play,” he said. “I was the kid that had a notebook and would write down storylines.”

Canals was 15 when he knew his love for story would translate to a career. With an after-school arts program, he and other students in his 10th grade class produced a documentary about gang violence with help from a then-fledgling HBO Family. Canals and his friends interviewed community members and worked for eight months to create the final product. But as they came to the end of the academic year, one of his peers — a co-producer on the film — was shot and killed.

“Her death was for me … I think it’s one that I still haven’t quite emotionally processed to be honest,” Canals said. “We went from highlighting a very particular experience to all of a sudden having that experience of loss at 15 and not having the emotional intelligence to comprehend how it could happen.”

With life imitating art, Canals said this is when the power of film and television truly resonated with him. These stories were not just there to entertain — they could educate.

“I think that’s where my own personal work always lives,” Canals said. “I always want to live at the intersection of [education and entertainment].”

And Pose does. The show traffics as much in queer reality as it does in queer fantasy. As much as it depicts queer and trans people’s lived experiences, Canals and the rest of the writer’s room knew that they’d be writing scenes never before depicted on television. For instance, Murphy and Canals knew that when Blanca spoke to Damon about gay sex, it would be the first time a young queer kid on television got “the talk” from his mother.

“The first time that I went to go attack the page, the first draft was super clinical,” Canals said. It felt as if Canals had just Googled a checklist about queer sexual health. “It wasn’t funny. The humor had been sucked right out of the conversation.”

After a quick kiki with Murphy and four days of rewrites, Canals said they arrived at the final conversation, which covered tops, bottoms, and more. Canals described the final scene as an “honest conversation” between a son and his mother — “a mother who happens to have a young boy who’s attracted to boys.”

“You can research any particular topic as much as you want until you’re blue in the face,” Canals said. “When it comes to crafting the narrative, you have to let all that go. You just have to tell the story.”    

Storylines around HIV also showed Canals and crew’s deft ability to toe the line between information and amusement. In episode four, ballroom MC Pray Tell talks to the young queer men in the House of Evangelista about getting tested in a restaurant booth. Scenes later, Pray Tell takes the younger generation to test at a clinic. And in episode six, he throws an AIDS cabaret to honor his dying lover. Canals said that the former plotline is meant to send a message, while the latter is meant to send the viewer a message about humanity.

While Pose does employ fantasy, it does so in the pursuit of justice. Canals said that every week, he received tweets during beats of the show about the character Angel (Indya Moore), who pursues a relationship with the upper middle class banker Stan (Evan Peters). He’d see tweets concerned for Angel’s safety, considering how much violence against trans women is often intimate partner violence. Canals saw the disconnect early on when the scene the writer’s room had concocted as the beginning of a love story between Angel and Stan was taken as a dangerous moment for Angel.

But, Canals said, that’s not what they wanted to portray. The life of Venus Xtravaganza, one of the most infamous members of New York City’s ballroom scene, and star of Paris Is Burning, inspired the character. Yet Angel is meant to be a blueprint for what her life could’ve been if she weren’t killed.

“We looked at Venus’s life and art in the documentary, and everyone was so moved and touched by her,” he said. “We decided to honor her by telling a story where that’s not her ending.”

Other characters take inspiration from Canals’ own life, as well. His favorite character to write is Blanca Evangelista, inspired, he said, by his own mother. Her love is a tough love: she forces Damon to apply for dance school, but only to meet his potential.

“Blanca is a fighter and my mom is — she’s just resilient,” he said. After our conversation, Canals took a moment to go to his room and came back with three pictures of his mother in the late 1970s and early 1980s. One picture has Canals as a baby.

“Blanca is truly just my mom on the page,” he said. “I understand her and understand how to write for her from growing up in a household with three really strong, complex, intelligent outspoken Black and Puerto Rican women.”

And as for Lil Papi, a young homeless Latinx man trying to get out of the drug game, he’s inspired by straight men Canals knew growing up in the Bronx who had no qualms with Canals being queer. Canals wrote an impassioned email to Ryan Murphy defending the character of Lil Papi being male after the writer’s room had a large discussion about whether they should change the character to be a lesbian. However, so much of Lil Papi came from Canals’ upbringing that he didn’t want to see the character’s gender altered.

On the first day that Angel Curiel, the actor playing Lil Papi, came to set, Canals said Murphy gave him the greatest compliment yet: “I’m glad you fought me on that one.”

Pose has proved to be a years-long lesson in what it means to be an Afro-Latinx creator in Hollywood. After writing the first draft in 2014, Canals said the show’s first pitches landed with a huge thud.

Pose opened every single door, but it would not keep me in the room,” he said. Executives would say it was too niche or use coded terms like “urban” to suggest that it wouldn’t connect with viewers. Everyone was enamored with the strength of the pilot; no one would foot the bill to see it realized.

Enter Ryan Murphy. Canals first met with Murphy in September 2016, days after Murphy won nine trophies at the Emmy Awards for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Canals’ personal favorite series of that year. Canals had been a fan of Murphy’s since Popular, his short-lived but much-loved WB series. The two spent 45 minutes together discussing Pose and what it might look like to work together. Canals said that with most pitches, he strayed conservative, not giving away too many details. But with Murphy, he put all his cards on the table.

“I felt like the ball had been in his court, but my team had been mindful about saying, ‘In reality, it’s in yours,’” he said. “You can go in there and if you don’t get along with him or you feel like it’s not the right fit, you don’t have to work with him.”

But, after the 45 minutes had ended, Canals knew the pair would be a fit. Canals said there was one moment that cinched that Murphy understood his vision for the show. Like every other executive, Murphy asked him who he envisioned in the series. When Canals couldn’t name big name actors to star as the show’s five central characters, most executives’ eyes glazed over. To Murphy, Canals said: “I don’t know, I haven’t met them yet.”

When Murphy agreed with Canals’ instincts, the two became a pair.

Murphy, Canals, and frequent Murphy collaborator Brad Falchuk began re-imagining Canals’ original script. The Damon storyline of the dancer coming to New York City was brought over wholesale from the original, but Murphy did make a few changes. He owned the rights to Paris Is Burning and, at one point, Pose had fictional characters interacting with real people like Pepper LaBeija and Dorian Corey. But that was eventually scrapped. Canals admits that for his own personal taste, authentic has always meant gritty, but Murphy suggested that the tone be lighter. Canals worried the show might veer into Glee territory when it came to lightness, but Murphy assured him that that was not what he was talking about.

“The word for the writer’s room for the entire season was ‘aspirational,’” he said. For Canals, the tone of Pose was so much larger than just how the viewer might receive it. Potentially flubbing the show might in turn cost himself and other creators of color jobs. Canals said the fate of Pose weighed heavy on him in that way.

“If I fuck up, then I just shut the door for everyone else who’s come after me,” he said.

Canals thinks about his relative privilege in the industry all the time. When I ask him how long it took for his own impostor syndrome to wear off, he replied, “I don’t think it has.”

Canals launched into a story, his modus operandi. He said a friend of his, a woman who’s been around the Hollywood block, explained to him that Tinseltown is a tugboat filled with white men. Every once in a while, the white men allow one person unlike them onto the ship, but it’s only one at a time and only when they feel like extending the invitation. They let you into the room and they usher you back out.

“Aside from reaching over and pulling people out of the water onto the boat, the other option, which is equally as important is to say, ‘Fuck it!’ and build another boat,” Canals said. “Just build my own goddamn boat, I’ll decide who is on it.”

Canals’ dedication to getting Hollywood a bigger boat probably stems from his own confusion as to why he is here rather than anyone else he grew up with. Why does he have a show on FX and others from the Bronx don’t? Why does he have a show with several trans writers, directors and actresses of color? He doesn’t know the answer.

“I’m always going to have that feeling of ‘I don’t know why I got here,’” he said. “I don’t know why the universe selected me as the person to make it out of that environment. There’s plenty of people with the same story as me, born and raised in the Bronx in the 1980s that don’t have the same opportunities I’ve had.”

“I don’t know why the universe decided I would be the person,” Canals said, “but I’m grateful for it.”

Photo Credit: Alex Schmider/INTO

Men.com Users Upset With Bisexual Video Featuring a Woman Because of Course

Here’s a piece of trivia: do you want to know what is gay porn site Men.com’s worst-reviewed film of all time according to its users?

According to a recent story from (extremely NSFW) Str8UpGayPorn, Men.com users have made the site’s first bisexual-themed film, “The Challenge,” the site’s most disliked movie ever — only 25% liked it.

On top of that, star Arad Winwin, a gay Iranian-American, has faced backlash from fans for appearing in the film, Str8UpGayPorn reported. Some people have accused the star of being secretly straight, because that’s how that works and sexuality isn’t fluid at all, right?

“This was only a job, and it was nothing more. Nothing personal. I was working, and it was like any other scene I’ve done,” Winwin told Str8UpGayPorn.

The whole thing kinda reeks of both misogyny and bisexual stigma. If you don’t like the content, don’t click.

Tyson Beckford Claps Back at Kim K’s Homophobia With … Homophobia?

Hey, all you defenseless gays! Don’t you love when you have a big, strapping man around to protect you from the homophobes of the world?

Model Tyson Beckford took to Instagram to call out Kim Kardashian on Thursday with a muscular set of selfies that showed his support for LGBTQ people.

“I defend those who can’t defend themselves! I support LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈,even though I’m not Gay. It’s just the Human thing to do,” Beckford wrote.

While Beckford is playing the hero in this scenario, don’t forget the story of what happened. Beckford commented on Kim Kardashian’s body publicly, saying: “Sorry, I don’t care for it personally.” and, “She is not real, doctor fucked up on her right hip.” He followed that up with a green vomit emoji, because vomiting over a woman’s body is super cool!

In response, Kardashian got a little too comfortable and responded, “Sis we all know why you don’t care for it.”

Beckford’s response is basically an updated Joe Dirt reference wrapped in some toxic masculinity bullshit. (For those who haven’t seen Joe Dirt, which is probably a lot of you, Joe Dirt responds to being called queer in the film by pumping his arms and saying, “Is this queer?!”)

Verdict: This is a bad feud.

Image via Getty

Leading HIV Researchers Call for End to HIV Criminalization

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — In no uncertain terms, leading HIV researchers worldwide have declared that HIV criminalization laws are misguided, ineffective and unwarranted and called for them to end.

In an emotional press conference at the 2018 International AIDS Conference, leading HIV researchers and public health officials presented a general consensus statement, “Expert consensus statement on the science of HIV in the context of criminal law,” prompted by “concern that criminal law is sometimes applied in a manner inconsistent with contemporary medical and scientific evidence: including overstating both the risk of HIV transmission and also the potential for harm to a person’s health and wellbeing.”

Linda-Gail Bekker, President of the International AIDS Society, opened the conference by pointing out that at least 68 countries have HIV-specific statutes that criminalize either non-disclosure, exposure or transmission while 33 more have applied non-HIV-specific statutes to penalize people living with HIV.

Bekker said that after researchers reviewed given rationale for HIV criminal laws from all perspectives, “The clear conclusion is that these laws are ineffective and unwarranted.”

“Rather than reducing HIV infection or protecting anyone, these ill-conceived laws most likely make the epidemic worse by perpetuating HIV stigma and driving people living with HIV and at risk of HIV infection away from HIV services and indeed into hiding,” Bekker said.

Bekker was joined on the panel by Peter Godfery-Faussett, senior science adviser at UNAIDS and corresponding author on the statement, president and chief executive officer of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care Jose Zuniga, HIV Justice Network global coordinator Edwin Bernard and president of the Women’s Lawyers Association of Malawi Sarai-Chisala Tempelhoff. At the end of the panel was an empty seat for Kerry Thomas of the HIV criminalization justice organization Sero Project. Thomas is currently incarcerated in Idaho for having sex while living with HIV. He is serving two consecutive 15 year sentences despite having an undetectable viral load and using a condom when he had sex.

Bekker said that the empty chair also “represents the loss to all of us that HIV criminalization laws create, a loss felt most severely by those people who have been arrested and incarcerated because of these regressive laws.”

Godfery-Faussett began the panel phase of the conference by saying that this document was created to help courts understand the progress made in HIV science since these laws were first enacted. He made reference to the newly-released PARTNER2 study, which affirmed that having an undetectable viral load means someone cannot transmit the virus and also said he hoped that this statement would lead to fewer convictions on the basis of HIV transmission or disclosure.

Zuniga stressed that people living with HIV take steps every day to prevent transmission of the virus, including getting into medical care and taking their antiretroviral medication. He said that courts must be willing to learn what science already knows.

“Action is required now to ensure that the criminal justice system understands the science of HIV in 2018,” Zuniga said.

Bernard pointed out that the majority of reported cases of HIV criminalization happened in the United States, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Canada, and Zimbabwe. In the United States, he added, most cases were in Florida, Ohio, and Tennessee.

“Criminal law is supposed to be based on rationality, yet our analysis of the data shows that these laws are unscientific and unjust and the vast majority of prosecutions are driven by stigma, not science,” Bernard said. “Science alone is not sufficient to end HIV criminalization. The criminal justice system and lawmakers must also consider the impact of prosecutions on the human rights of people living with HIV as well as public health advocates to end the HIV epidemic.”

Tempelhoff spoke about the criminalization of women and girls in her native Malawi, especially women who have been criminalized for an act of breastfeeding a child.

“We now have a tool to resist the overly broad and unjust criminalization of HIV,” Tempelhoff said.

After a brief Q&A and a video detailing his story, Thomas called in from a prison in Idaho, where he was not allowed to use the phone until 7:00 a.m. Thomas pointed out that in his own case, the courts never looked at medical evidence about being undetectable and chose not to speak with his doctor.

“In Idaho, the medical facts of the case were not taken into account. They were ignored,” Thomas said. Thomas said that though he was undetectable and used a condom, the court only cared about his disclosure. “Had the science of HIV transmission had been taken into account at that time, it’s reasonable to conclude that I would not be serving a 30-year sentence.”

The full statement is available at the Journal of the International AIDS Society.