“Pose” Creator’s Next Series Will Focus on Early Fight for Queer Rights

"81 Words" tells the story of gay activists Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings.

Steven Canals is looking beyond the ballroom.

The Pose co-creator is planning his next FX project, 81 Words, based on an episode of This American Life.

The official description for the series reads: “Until 1974, the medical establishment considered gay people sexually deviant and diagnosed them as mentally ill. 81 Words tells the true story of gay activists Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, who risked their career and reputation to conspire with the GAYPA—a clandestine group of closeted psychiatrists—and challenge the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of homosexuality.”


This really is the summer of Kameny. His life—and fight for LGBTQ rights—was also the subject of last month’s bestselling book, The Deviant’s War by Dr. Eric Cervini. As NewNowNext previously reported, The Deviant’s War traces the origins of the fight for queer rights in the U.S. back to the wrongful termination of Kameny, gay government employee and founding member of the Mattachine Society. Kameny’s firing and his prolonged fight for his rights predated the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, which is often cited as the watershed moment for queer liberation in America.

Canals will write the script and serve as executive producer for 81 Words. As for Pose, the third season of the FX series is one of the many television productions currently paused due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was "just the cutest thing ever."