Blanca Evangelista | 08
Another strong LGBTQ character from a television series explored in this episode – Blanca Evangelista, from Pose.
Mahir explores what makes this character so great, and the impact on the community at large.
From MotorMouth Podcasts, I’m Mahir and you’re listening to the MotorMouth Original – Queer’s The Word. This is a show where I bring to you every single thing queer, ranging from real-life stories and experiences to queer representation on screen.
In the previous episode, we spoke the brilliant and enigmatic character of Pray Tell from the FX original series, Pose. But there is so much more to talk about this ground-breaking show.
And so today, we continue talking about another character from this very series, and the actress who made history at 73rd Primetime Emmys. We’ll get to that in a bit. Today, we talk about one of the best written characters on contemporary television, Blanca Evangelista, played by the spectacular Michaela Jaé Rodriguez.
“You have to shine so bright out there, that they can’t deny you” – this is one of the many uplifting lines you hear Mother Blanca say to her children when they’re in need of some moral support. And boy, are they ever? For the world hasn’t always been too kind to queer people of colour, and they especially weren’t in the 1980s. So, each time the cruel world went out of its way to wrong any of her children or sisters, she was always there. But what’s her story? Blanca was a young trans woman of colour barely surviving on the streets of New York City, when she was given shelter by the legendary Elektra Abundance. As fierce and forthright her mother Elektra was, Blanca, on the other hand, grew up to be a gentle and nurturing individual with abundant empathy. And so, when the time was right, Blanca took it upon herself to give back to the community by establishing the house of Evangelista which run on only one principle – love.
And Michaela Jaé does a fabulous job at portraying the ever giving Blanca, and for that very reason she received a nomination for Lead Actress in a Drama Series at the 73rd Primetime Emmys. Unfortunately she did not go home with the trophy that night – now remember when I mentioned how the world wasn’t too kind to queer people of colour in the 1980s? Well this is 2021. But the house of Evangelista certainly went home with a ton of trophies every time they stormed the dance floor. And Blanca may have won the coveted title of Mother of Year in 1988 but I think we all can agree, that she is THE Mother of every year as long as she lives and beyond. Blanca truly was a real example of living one’s lives to the absolute fullest irrespective of what the world throws at you. From AIDS to a narrow minded real estate mogul, she fought them all with the right mix of optimism and level-headedness. There were times she faltered, but that’s what makes her more real and more tangible than many other characters on television. And even when she did fall short, she never failed to open our eyes to the possibilities of a meaningful existence, to a world where no-one had to hide from their true selves. And if anyone ever felt that they had to run away from themselves to live freely, Mother Blanca was the friend, parent and leader you could turn to at any time. For it’s the world that needs to change and not you.
On the other side of the break, I will be sharing with you a short poem I’ve written keeping in mind the legendary Blanca Evangelista.
Welcome back! This is Queer’s The Word from MotorMouth Podcasts and I’m Mahir. Today, we’re talking about another character from queer television who is an absolute icon. Today, we talk about Blanca Evangelista from the FX original series, POSE.
Now, one of the most powerful scenes from the series finale that aired earlier this year, was when Blanca scatters Pray Tell’s ashes on the mayor’s lawn. This scene along with Pray Tell’s AIDS quilt were both inspired from real life events. These protests are considered to be one of the most significant ones in recent queer history. And, if you wish to know more about these, I implore you to check out When We Rise by the Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black. And while learning so much about queer history around the globe, I ended up falling down the rabbit hole of Indian queer history and it is glorious to say the least. From Leela Namdeo and Urmila Shrivastava’s wedding in 1987 to the publication of the first queer magazine Bombay Dost in 1990 – the late 1980s and early 1990s were the formative years of a revolution growing in the underbelly of a society that would rather remain mum. If you didn’t know, India too had its own Act Up-like organization called AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Aandolan that was founded in New Delhi in 1988. In late 1991, ABVA came out with a report titled “Less Than Gay: A Citizens’ Report on the Status of Homosexuality in India” which is regarded to be the first document to publicly demand queer rights in India. You can readily find this 70 page report on the internet and is such an eye-opener. You must absolutely give it a read and learn more about the generation of queers preceding ours which will also give you a glimpse into their lifestyle and show you how far we’ve come.
But for now, it’s time for me to share with you a short poem I’ve written for our person of the day – Blanca Evangelista.
through broken panes of a lifeless window
scatters the warmth of her love,
her gentle hands radiating
the blessing of existence –
but she’s also beauty
she’s the fire that never extinguishes,
she’s the promise of a lifetime
of goodwill and benevolence,
she delivers manicures of kindness
and serves bona fide realness,
she’s the mother of all mothers,
she’s a sister to a sisterhood,
she’s Blanca Evangelista,
she’s a beacon through time.
Thank you for listening to this episode of Queer’s The Word.
I’ll see you in the next episode.
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You can find music and other credits in the episode notes.
This episode was written and hosted by me, Mahir.
Sound production, design and mixing by Prateek Sharma.
Our show cover art is designed by Rishikant.
Our Creative Director is Gargie Sharma and this show is
Executive produced and created by Prateek Sharma, for MotorMouth Podcasts.