Billy Porter

A Black Trans Teen Rom-Com? Sign Me Up, Please, and Thank You

Billy Porter

Billy Porter is set to make his feature film directorial debut with “Anything’s Possible,” a teenage rom-com where a Black, trans girl named Kelsa (played by Eva Reign) gets a crush on a boy named Khal (played by Abubakr Ali) . The trailer takes all the adorable rom-com cues you’d expect where girl meets boy, boy is also flustered about girl’s existence, and little moments like a sweater brushing against someone’s arm feel monumental because crushes just be like that. Do yourself a favor and take two minutes out of your day to watch it.

“I hate when people say I’m brave.”

With the story focusing on a Black trans girl, different elements come into play, like the allegations of Khal dating Kelsa for “woke points” and a general concern of how people will react to the couple (though the comments via text are very supportive and full of positive emojis). This kind of representation adds something unique to the rom-com formula we’re used to, but with the story still maintaining a wholesome vibe, you get to see a marginalized person in a space full of support and love. Porter told Variety, “This is an aspirational story. It’s almost like a fairytale. We know that. It’s a look at what we can be. That’s what we as artists get to do — look at what we can be and what we should be.”

There’s a part in the trailer where Kelsa comments on how she hates being called brave, and it’s something that I immediately related to. As a Black, queer woman, the “brave” and “strong” labels get used for things that should be pretty basic. While I know and understand that my existence is a form of resistance because of how people like me are treated, it’s a lot to process when you realize that BEING here is enough to make folks angry. It shouldn’t be “brave” to simply wake up in the morning and go about your day, and we should have more stories where we get to just… BE!

This is the vibe I get from Anything’s Possible as we watch Kelsa try and navigate something we’re all familiar with — a crush. The major source of tension seems to stem from the fact that Kelsa’s friend likes the same boy. However, Khal takes an immediate liking to Kelsa, and we can see that they do start dating after he bashfully tells his parents that he likes her.

More stories that I wish I had growing up

When I first wrote about Heartstopper I said that I wished I had more stories like it growing up. I had little to no queer, teenage stories that had a message of hope and love despite the hard stuff that can (and does) happen to the community. Another thing I brought up was the inclusion of Black characters like Tara and Elle and how they’d both, obviously, gone through their fair share of disparaging remarks (Tara’s happening in real-time). Even with the hardship, they also got to experience joy and find support from others. Elle, especially, has a storyline that focuses on her growing feelings for her best friend and her gaining more friends after she leaves the all-boys school to attend the all-girls school.

The queer community is very much aware of the negativity, which is why we need encouraging stories, too — especially ones that show queer youth in a positive light. In the trailer for Anything’s Possible, we see more than Kelsa’s romance with Khal, she has friends and a supportive parent who encourages her to be herself. Moments that champion supporting the transgender community (and, frankly, show how EASY it is to do) are important and necessary.

What I truly appreciate is that it looks like Kelsa already has those things versus her having to try and prove her worth. I’m sure the film will have its moments (it looks like Khal punches someone for calling Kelsa a derogatory term, for example) but, overall, the impression I get is “Black trans girl in a rom-com who gets the rom- com embarrassment of her friend catching her making out.” I cannot stress enough how much I flailed about as a teenager trying to find queer media that also embraced Black joy for longer than a background character or singular episode, so seeing a movie like this means a lot to me.

(Image: Prime Video)

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