Almost three decades span the release of Paris is Burning (1990), Jennie Livingston’s arthouse documentary on the late-1980s New York ballroom scene, and its fictional revisiting in the TV series Pose (2018-21), created by Ryan Murphy and now a global phenomenon thanks to its presence on streaming services. Paris is Burning and Pose have both gone on to be highly successful commercially, and stand as landmark moments of non-white queer visibility. Appearing at critical junctures in the history of racial non-heteronormative sexualties, they have occasioned, in their wake, a rethinking of the epistemological foundations of gender identity and the generic codes underpinning trans representation. As such, these visual texts and the world they represent can be also be read as queer heterotopias — “other spaces” where dominant values and practices are at once mirrored and challenged — as they invite both an endorsement and a queering (or “transing”) of the norms with which they engage.
ballroom, drag, heterotopia, queer, transgender.