FX viewers who tuned in to this week’s season finale of the network’s drama Pose may have noticed a familiar local symbol in the episode’s climax: the Philadelphia Pride Flag.
The show, however, is set in the 1980s and ’90s in New York City’s LGBTQ ballroom-culture scene. And the Philly Pride Flag, which features black and brown swathes in addition to the usual rainbow of stripes as a symbol for the inclusion of LGBT people of color, didn’t debut here in Philadelphia until 2017. So was using the Philly Pride Flag just an oversight?
Well, no. But first, some backstory (and some spoilers, so be warned).
The Philly Pride Flag makes its appearance toward the end of the episode “In My Heels,” which aired on Tuesday and which follows protagonist Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) as she makes her return to the ballroom after a hospital stay due to complications from HIV. Set in 1991, the episode revolves around the annual Mother’s Day Ball, to which Blanca arrives in a wheelchair.
“The scene marked Blanca’s grand return home, to her people, her family, her safe space in the ballroom, which has always been unapologetically trans and queer as it has been black and brown,” director, writer, and co-executive producer Janet Mock told The Inquirer.
After arriving, Blanca competes in the ball, ultimately rising from her wheelchair for a lip-synced performance of Whitney Houston’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” from Super Bowl XXV. Blanca finishes off the performance complete with the waving of two flags in the background: the House of Evangelista banner, which represents her chosen family in the ballroom culture, and the Philly Pride Flag.
The idea, Mock said, was to show the flag on a wider platform.
“For me, as a director, an LGBTQ person and woman of color, I made the choice to include this flag as part of this scene because it is an under-seen symbol, and I want more people to see its existence on such a wide platform,” Mock said, “despite it not necessarily being created until 2017.”
While the Philly Pride Flag’s appearance on the show was quick, many fans took notice, and responded positively on social media, including Amber Hikes, former executive director of Philly’s Office of LGBT Affairs, which debuted the flag.
“All the hell I went through introducing this flag to the world 2 years ago...all the pain and hardship were worth it,” Hikes wrote on Twitter. “This is a dream come true.”
The Philly Pride Flag has at least one appearance in a major TV show coming up, courtesy of AMC’s Dispatches From Elsewhere, which is currently filming in town. Earlier this month, the flag was spotted as part of a scene filming on Locust Street that re-created the Philadelphia Pride Parade. Writer/actress Lena Waithe also wore the flag as a cape on the red carpet of the 2018 Met Gala.