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Billy Porter throws shade at Harry Styles: 'All he has to do is be white and straight'

The 'Pose' actor questioned why Styles was chosen for the historic cover of Vogue. He shared that he felt sidelined for his contributions to men's fashion.

Billy Porter throws shade at Harry Styles: 'All he has to do is be white and straight'
Image Source: 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals. LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 19. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Almost a year ago, Harry Styles became the first man to grace the cover of American Vogue. He donned a full-length dress for the now-iconic photograph. Ever since, the singer has been praised for breaking the barriers of fashion for men, symbolizing a new, "more expressive" era. However, actor Billy Porter recently expressed criticism of idolizing Styles as the face of this movement. The actor, who has built a reputation for his gender-fluid fashion choices, threw shade at Vogue for choosing Styles, CNN reports. While it has admittedly been easier for cis white men to earn praise for doing the bare minimum, some have questioned Porter's statements.


"I feel like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to," the Pose actor shared in an interview with the British newspaper The Sunday Times. "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." He argued that there has been a gap between the opportunities afforded to him as a Black, gay man and those given to Styles. In the mid-2000s, Porter struggled to book acting jobs after making his Broadway debut in 1991. He was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2007.


His career only began to stabilize when he won an Emmy in 2019 for the Netflix series Pose. Now, he regularly makes a statement on the red carpet, appearing in "eye-catching looks that push the conversation around gender and style forward." Unfortunately, he feels that proper credit is lacking. He claimed he "changed the whole game" when it came to men wearing skirts and dresses. Despite this, it was Styles who gained recognition through his Vogue cover. "I was the first one doing it and now everybody is doing it," Porter 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."


He continued, "I had to fight my entire life to get to the place where I could wear a dress to the Oscars. All [Styles] has to do is be white and straight." While some have appreciated Porter's candid and vulnerable thoughts on the topic, others have expressed that Porter was not the first to reinvent fashion for men. One Twitter user posted, "The thing with Billy Porter is he's also cis. So the difference between him and Harry Styles both taking credit for 'creating the conversation' for nonbinary fashion is... Harry's not taking credit for it, nor has he ever, whereas Porter acts like he's God's greatest gift to trans people." Some were quick to point out that the actor was nominated for an Emmy whereas none of his trans co-stars were (an issue he quickly sidelined).


Others, still, pointed out iconic celebrities who were "changing the fashion game" before Porter. These include, for instance, Little Richard, Prince, and Freddie Mercury. Nonetheless, we must acknowledge that straight white folks are heavily praised for appropriating queer and Black culture, whereas those who molded those very cultures are marginalized because of it. "The audacity to accuse Billy Porter, a Black gay man who had to fight for his place in the midst of the AIDS crisis, of 'using his gayness and Blackness as leverage' just to defend some dude who gets opportunities because he's white," one Twitter user wrote. "The 'it's not about race' energy is strong."


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