Pose‘s Billy Porter wasn’t happy with Harry Styles’ Vogue cover last year, in which he made history being the first man to grace the cover.
Styles, 27, was photographed for the cover wearing a full-length dress. This made the One Direction alum a symbol of a new, more fluid men’s fashion — but Porter wasn’t so impressed. Porter, 52, has built a reputation around his gender-fluid fashion choices.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Porter argued there was a disconnect in the opportunities afforded to him as a Black, gay man and those given to Styles.
“I feel like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to,” he said. “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.”
"There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes. I’ve never thought too much about what it means—it just becomes this extended part of creating something.": Read our full December cover story starring @Harry_Styles here: https://t.co/yILujUQQae pic.twitter.com/qwpGKBSQey— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) November 13, 2020
Porter, whose first autobiography Unprotected: A Memoir will be published later this month, spoke candidly about his delayed professional success. In the early 2000s, the star struggled to book acting jobs after making his Broadway debut in 1991. By 2007, he was forced to declare bankruptcy. It wasn’t until the success of Netflix series Pose, for which Porter won an Emmy in 2019 for his performance of the ballroom MC Pray Tell that his career began to stabilize.
Now Porter is a red carpet regular, wearing innovative, eye-catching looks that push the conversation around gender and style forward. However, Porter told The Sunday Times that he “changed the whole game” when it came to men wearing skirts and dresses.
“I was the first one doing it and now everybody is doing it,” he said. “I’m not dragging Harry Styles, but… He doesn’t care, he’s just doing it because it’s the thing to do. 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,” Porter continued. “All (Styles) has to do is be white and straight.”