This week we’re celebrating Afro Latines in pop culture through the story of Steven Canals, co-creator of Pose on FX.

Steven was born and raise in the Bronx, and identifies as black, brown, queer and Afro Boriqua. He often credits his experience growing up in the middle of the 1980’s HIV/AIDS crisis as his inspiration for Pose, which has now received 12 Emmy nominations since airing in 2018.

But while his storytelling has touched the lives of millions of black and brown queer youth, Steven hasn’t always felt so confident with his own identity.

In an interview with Logo, Steven discussed Latinidad, his identity as a black man, and the searching he had to go through. While his mother was black and Puerto Rican he grew up identifying mostly as Hispanic. He called his experience a journey, and said that getting to Afro Puerto Rican, and specifically adopting “Afro” was important to him because he didn’t want to erase his family history.

In the same interview, Steven went on to explain that he hoped he might be able to continue to help others struggling with their identity through his work on Pose.

“What our audience can take away is the importance of acknowledging identity, and also taking a step back to recognize that identity and specifically race and ethnicity is so complex and nuanced and it isn’t as simple as just one identifier, you know, we want to put people in a box and it’s so much more complicated than that.“

We couldn’t agree more. We stan Steven Canals at Call me Latine, and on a personal note, we are so grateful he helped uplift MJ Rodriguez and all the girls on Pose!

Hear from Steven in his own words in the following interview:

Each week Call me Latine highlights one Latine of importance to LGBTQIA+, non-binary, and feminist culture. Who do you think deserves the spotlight? Nominate an icon, past or present by sending us a DM on Instagram at @callmelatine.