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Billy Porter makes history as first openly gay, Black man to win Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama

The 'Pose' star quoted James Baldwin as he accepted his award on stage, inspiring actors of color everywhere.

Billy Porter makes history as first openly gay, Black man to win Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama

The face of television is changing — for the better. A few years ago, the white man was at the forefront of all our TV shows. Now, actors, directors, and producers of color are finally achieving long due recognition for their contribution to television. And there is perhaps no better marker of that than the winner of the 71st Emmy Awards' Lead Actor in a Drama Series category — the iconic Billy Porter. Winning the Emmy for his role as ballroom emcee Pray Tell on Pose, the actor is the first openly gay, Black man to both be nominated and win the prestigious award, The Huffington Post reports.


Porter accepted the award with a moving speech about Black empowerment. Quoting Black activist and author James Baldwin, he asserted, "The category is love, y'all, love. I am so overwhelmed and I am so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day. It took many years of vomiting up all the filth that I had been taught about myself - and halfway believed - before I could walk around this earth like I had the right to be here. I have the right, you have the right - we all have the right! We, as artists, are the people who get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet. Please don’t ever stop doing that. Please don’t ever stop telling the truth."


Of course, the internet was abuzz after his win. Many took to social media platform Twitter to express their excitement and make mention of the significance of Porter's landmark achievement. Thenervousgeek posted: I am so happy for Billy Porter winning and making history last night. He deserves everything. EVERYBODY WATCH POSE. Briana_shmiana added: I know I've expressed my love for Billy Porter time and again. Just real quick though? Name a more deserving human. Artistlike acknowledged his impact on the show Pose, stating: There’s a quality of all Ryan Murphy series that make them feel at least a little bit like after-school Specials - but the first two seasons of Pose drew a lot of cathartic tears out of me, and Billy Porter is a big part of that. Thanks for doing such an important show justice.


Pose is now in its second season and boasts to its name one of the most diverse casts on television at the moment; not only does the show currently feature the largest cast of transgender performers (who are, unlike other shows, regulars on the series), but it also has the largest recurring LGBTQ+ cast ever. Notably, it is the only scripted show ever produced to do so. In the past, Porter has described his experience on the TV series as "really life-altering." He once told PEOPLE, "My outness was always considered a liability for me and that has turned around. In my life in the business, having that flamboyant ability, very often that’s where you’re pigeonholed, that’s where you’re sort of put in a box. I’m glad to be out of that box." Now that the diverse actor has won an Emmy,  a Grammy, and a Tony award, he only needs an Oscar in order to attain EGOT status. Fingers crossed.


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