The Black Queer & Trans Representation In Star Is Everything

Photo: Courtesy of Fox.
Even though I’m still side-eyeing Lee Daniels for his comments about #OscarsSoWhite, I have to give him props for the diversity he’s bringing to his new Fox musical, Star. In addition to nailing the racial dynamics in this new show (yes, white girls occasionally live in the hood, and sometimes they talk and dress like Star), he has centered queer narratives and representation.

In the very first episode, Cotton, the transgender daughter of Carlotta, navigates identity with her mother and gets attacked while working at a local strip club. But trauma is not a singular theme in Cotton’s life. She helps manage her mother’s salon and has dreams of being a fashion designer. Daniels did his due diligence and hired an actual trans woman, Amiyah Scott, to take on the role.

One of the stylists in the salon, Miss Bruce, is another gender-fluid character on Star. She’s a shady queen most of the time, regularly exchanging insults with Cotton. But she is also a wise counselor to Carlotta, offering well-thought advice to the same woman who once did the same for her.

In one scene in the salon during episode 2, the music video for “Groove Is In the Heart” comes on. Miss Bruce and a gay friend are swept away by their memories and begin voguing around the salon to the cheers of clients and other stylists. This prompts Alexandra to imagine herself and her girl group performing with the moves during a colorful fantasy scene. It’s possible that this will serve as inspiration for their upcoming talent contest showcase.

Black gay culture is often co-opted and appropriated — phrases like “spilling tea” and “gagging” have a contextual history — but rarely recognized in the ways that Daniels is doing on Star.
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