Billy Porter Opens Up to Esquire on “Pose,” His 30-Year Career, and Creating LGBTQ History

Posted on June 10, 2019

“Pose” star Billy Porter opens up to Esquire magazine on “Pose,” his 30-year career, and creating LGBTQ history.



On his long road to where he is today: “It’s been such a battle that I’m trying to remember to feel all this. It’s so joyful. It’s so beyond anything that I could’ve ever imagined this thing looking like.”

On his career building towards something greater: “[Authenticity] is fully and truly a ministry for me. I want to minister to people who don’t understand and change the trajectory of the world….There’s a difference between wanting to be a star and wanting to be an artist. And that was something that became very clear and defined in my mid-to-late twenties.”

On the first and only sermon that he gave at eleven-years-old: “So many people felt something special—a special energy coming from me in my life early on. And it’s immediately about ‘little preacher man.’ You’re going to be a preacher. Because it’s the only space that they understand a special energy like that.”

On his abusive childhood: “This is really deep. It’s not something that I’ve spoken about a lot. But… the sexual abuse that I received at the hands of my stepfather from the time I was seven until the time I was twelve, weirdly, was the best thing that ever happened to me. At seven, at twelve, I could look around and see all of these adults with no capacity to do anything to help me. I knew there’s not an adult around me that knows what the fuck to do. I will do it myself.”

On the empowerment that bloomed from his isolation: “I was able to extract myself from that toxic energy without fear, without guilt. I wish that more young people … I’m not saying go through abuse. I’m just saying that I wish more young people could get to the space of I don’t need your tolerance, I don’t need your acceptance. What I demand is your respect for my humanity.”

On gender clothing norms: “If you’re a woman wearing pants, you’re inside of the standard, and that’s cool. But if a man decides to put on female clothes, it’s disgusting. So what are we saying? Once again, male is better and female is disgusting. And I’m not having any of that anymore. I’m done! My masculinity is in question because masculinity is better? F**k that, it ain’t.”


Style Credits:
1st Image: Jacket, Shirt, Skirt, Tie, Socks, Boots, and Hat by Thom Browne
2nd Image: Overalls, Shirt, and Jacket by Yohji Yamamoto | Shoes by Giuseppe Zanotti
3rd Image: Dress and Scarf by Prabal Gurung | Shoes by Tamara Mellon
4th Image: Suit, Shirt, and Rings by Alexander McQueen | Shoes by Marion Parke | Bag by Valentino

[Photo Credit: Allie Holloway/Esquire Magazine]

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