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  • Tomisin Sobande

Billy Porter On Harry Styles’ Vogue Cover

As most people know, Harry Styles graced the December, 2020 cover of Vogue Magazine in a full-length dress which prompted lots of conversation and controversy. Most of the discussion around Styles’ cover and its message had died down until recently when Billy Porter, an actor best known for his role in the show Pose and current red-carpet style icon, criticized Vogue’s decision to feature Harry Styles.

Billy Porter is infamous for his red-carpet style. Some of his best looks include the glamorous gold bodysuit worn for the 2019 Met Gala, the blue-bedazzled ensemble he wore for the 2020 Grammy Awards, and black velvet gown and tuxedo jacket Porter used to stun at the 2019 Oscars. His outfits are known for defying cultural expectations on how men are “supposed” to dress.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, a British newspaper, Porter said, “I created the conversation, and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time.” Billy Porter tried to highlight the disparity in opportunities given to black and white celebrities, but his criticism fell flat.

While he makes legitimate points, his past actions make it difficult for people to take him seriously. Many only know him for his red-carpet appearances, but those more familiar with his career will know about his Emmy controversy.

In 2019, Billy Porter won an Emmy for his role in Pose, while his black transgender co stars were ignored. None of the black trans women with whom Porter performed were even nominated for an Emmy. After the ceremony, a reporter asked him if his win was bittersweet since his trans castmates were ignored. Porter responded, “I don’t live in the bittersweet. I live in the present. The fact that we’re in the building is the point, right?... And now we got another season. And now they’ll get their shot.” These comments caused lots of uproar, especially when for the next season, Billy Porter remained as the only cast member to get a nomination while his trans co-stars were ignored.

It is worth wondering whether Billy Porter really cares about opportunity disparity in the entertainment industry, or if he just wanted to be the first man featured on the cover of Vogue in a dress. While I would like to believe his motives are altruistic, his past actions tell another, more self-centered story.




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