Billy Porter Called Out Vogue And Harry Styles For 1 Important Reason
He raised a valid point.
When the December 2020 issue of Vogue hit stands with Harry Styles wearing a Gucci jacket and full-length dress on the cover, it garnered so much attention. Fans were quick to praise Styles for his fashion choice, and for defying gender norms when it came to clothing. Nearly one year after Styles became the first male to make the cover of Vogue solo, people still have something to say. According to Billy Porter, when it comes to gender fluidity and fashion, Styles was not the first person to break boundaries.
Before Porter was known for making fashion statements on the red carpet, he struggled with freely expressing himself in Hollywood. In an Oct. 17 interview with The Sunday Times, Porter opened up about the challenges he faced throughout his career. And although Porter recently turned heads in Camilla Cabello’s 2021 Cinderella, wearing an extravagant gown as a “genderless” fairy godmother, this wasn’t always the case.
“I was told my queerness would be a liability and I would never have the kind of success that I have,” Porter said. “I feel like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to. I’m not necessarily convinced and here is why. I created the conversation [about non-binary fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time.”
The Pose star meant no disrespect towards Styles and explained, “This is politics for me. This is my life. I had to fight my entire life to get to the place where I could wear a dress to the Oscars and not be gunned now. All he has to do is be white and straight.” Porter has been in the entertainment industry since the age of 21 and was continually told he “wasn’t masculine enough” to book lead roles.
He went on to explain “naysayers were right for a very long time, until they weren’t,” hinting at his 2007 bankruptcy. Those who doubted Porter were proven wrong when he won a Tony in 2013 with his lead role as Lola in the Broadway adaptation of Kinky Boots. Later in 2018, Porter booked his career-making role as MC Pray Tell in Netflix’s Pose, which ultimately earned him an Emmy in 2019.
The 52-year-old took credit for today’s wave of men embracing skirts and dresses, telling the newspaper, “I changed the whole game. And that is not ego, that is just fact. I was the first one doing it and now everybody is doing it.” Porter has had many eye-catching fashion moments over the past few years, such as his 2019 Oscars Christian Siriano outfit, which featured a tuxedo top and a ball gown on the bottom. And who could forget his 2019 WorldPride NYC appearance, when he wore a Siriano rainbow floor-length gown?
No one can argue that musicians like David Bowie, Prince, and Elton John paved the way for defying gender norms when it comes to fashion. Still, they were considered anomalies when they did so at the height of their popularity. Today, we have seen various men rock dresses, including Jared Leto, Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, Young Thug, Kid Cudi, and Post Malone.
So whether or not this movement was started by Porter, it’s inspiring to see a new generation of men not afraid to tap into their sexuality and gender expression.