From Dorian’s closet to Elektra’s trunk : Visibility, trauma and gender euphoria in <i>Pose</i>

Ferreday, Debra (2022) From Dorian’s closet to Elektra’s trunk : Visibility, trauma and gender euphoria in <i>Pose</i>. Queer Studies in Media &amp; Popular Culture, 7 (1). pp. 9-25. ISSN 2055-5695

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In recent years, queer identities, lives and stories have been integrated into popular culture to an extent that would have been unimaginable until relatively recently. A key part of this attempt to make sense of queerness in the present is the quest for a shared queer past. A trend in recent film and television has been the revisiting and reclaiming of stories that have been erased from mainstream media and from official historical accounts. This links to what might be seen as a wider ‘post-traumatic turn’ in popular culture, in which the traumas of the past are revisited and processed through media in order to understand how they continue to haunt and structure material reality in the present. The link between trauma and representation is particularly important in relation to trans subjects, who have been disproportionately subject to ‘trauma porn’ in mainstream media: in film and tabloid news accounts and through a pathologizing medical gaze. This article focuses on FX’s Pose to consider how contemporary representations of trans people of colour rework and challenge this dominant narrative by invoking images of gender euphoria. By focusing on the figure of drag mother Elektra Abundance, and particularly its reworking of the ‘true crime’ story of real-life drag queen Dorian Corey, I argue that Pose constitutes an important step in attempting to reconcile the need to affirm and reclaim lived experiences of trauma, but to do so in a way that does justice to the creative and intellectual labour of trans, non-binary and gender-non-conforming people of colour. Recycling, reframing and rethinking a broad archive of historic media texts, I argue, poses a challenge both to mainstream notions of visibility and to queer media studies.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Queer Studies in Media &amp; Popular Culture
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© Ferreday, 2022. The definitive, peer reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture, 7, 1, 9-25, 2022 10.1386/qsmpc_00065_1
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Deposited On:
13 Dec 2022 13:30
Last Modified:
12 Feb 2024 00:46