It goes without saying, but SPOILERS for the FX series Pose.
FX’s Pose is back on our tv screens and is already renewed for a third season. Life is good. But you know what’s better? The fine stud that is Martinez “Lil Papi” Evangelista.
When I started watching Pose, I was instantly drawn to Angel Bismark Curiel who plays Lil Papi on the show all about New York City’s Ballroom scene. He has machismo, swag, and a goofy smile. But unfortunately, his character went without any real storyline for most of the first season. Instead, Lil Papi acted like the comedic relief for the majority of the show. And even when he was given a deeper plot in the last two episodes, he became a plot device in the drama.
But thankfully, season two is here and we are getting more Angel/Papi than we have before. While Lil Papi is still not at the top of the writing room’s list, he’s getting more lines and attention than he did in previous episodes. In addition, he’s getting a romance.
Why last season saw the rise of Ryan Jamaal Swain and Dyllón Burnside with their power couple characters Damon and Ricky, this season is all about Indya Moore’s Angel and Lil Papi. It did not escape me that these two bickered like middle schoolers with a crush in the first season. So when season’s two trailers started dropping, I recognized the fact that the actors were being placed together pretty often. And thankfully, it looks like my suspicions were correct.
Honestly, after Angel’s messy relationship last year, I’m thankful that she’s allowed herself to fall for a good guy. And let’s face it, Lil Papi is one of the good ones. He’s loyal, tough but caring, goofy, and charismatic. Lil Papi’s a guy that can make you smile one second, laugh another, and swoon the next.
And it doesn’t hurt that Lil Papi’s actor Angel Bismark Curiel is drop dead gorgeous. I mean, just let his Instagram do the work.
Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Lil Papi’s sexuality. Again, the character didn’t get much exploration in the first season, and conversations/depictions of his romantic and sexual expression go with that. That said, the character did express his sexual interests once on the show. Lil Papi explained that he’s primarily into women, though he has had experiences with other men. But, he didn’t give himself a label.
Because the character, and the show’s writers, didn’t give the character a specific label, it’s hard for us to assign one to him. Does his sole statement mean that he’s straight or bi? Was his experience with other men merely for the money (as he got paid for sex while living on the street) or partially for pleasure? We honestly don’t know.
If Lil Papi’s bi, we have more bi representation and namely one that doesn’t cater to the overused “bi people are sexual promiscuous” trope (seen in multiple bi men on Will & Grace, Brittany Pierce in Glee, Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones, and more). Bisexuality is one factor that’s missing in this already LGBTQ explosive series (if you don’t count Evan Peters’ messy character in season one).
And as we learned from a recent Pew Research Center anaylsis, 40% of bisexual people say they are attracted to primarily the opposite sex and 4% report being attracted to only people of the opposite sex (despite identifying as bisexual). In addition, 88% percent of bisexual respondents were in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Part of Bi-erasure is the idea that bisexual people can’t be mostly attracted to opposite-sex people and still be considered bisexual. In Lil Papi’s case, the jury isn’t out yet.
But if he’s not bi and merely straight with a few gay experiences, we still have a straight character who’s a major ally within this largely LGBTQ world. Papi’s family is made up of gay men and trans women. In addition, he’s falling in love with a trans woman and sees her as simply a woman. He doesn’t fetishize her lower half like Peters’ said messy character or Elektra Abundance’s ex-lover. Lil Papi simply sees Angel as the beautiful woman that she is.
So guys, what’s not to love about Angel Bismark Curiel’s Lil Papi. He’s funny, he’s loyal, and he’s romantic. He’s a great guy. And while this show already has wonderful male characters in Billy Porter’s Pray Tell or Ryan Jamaal Swain and Dyllón Burnside’s Damon and Ricky, it’s Lil Papi who has my attention. And I hope to keep on thirsting.