Billy Porter was told his “queerness would be (his) liability” when he started in the entertainment business. The “Pose” star, who’s openly gay, revealed in an interview with the Evening Standard that the warning turned out to be true because he was booted from mainstream R&B in the early years.
“When I got into the business in the late ’80s, I was told that my queerness would be my liability,” the 53-year-old stated. “Not just in the music industry, but across the board. And it was a liability. They kicked me out of mainstream R&B.”
However, he noted the cultural gatekeepers came crawling back years later after he won a Tony in 2013 for the stage musical “Kinky Boots” and an Emmy for “Pose” in 2019.
“(I) made a name for myself, period,” he said. “Not just Broadway. I won an Emmy. I’m a fashion icon. Now they need me. Winners write their history, because I’m not supposed to be here looking like this.”
The “Cinderella” actor then expressed gratitude that he made it through the AIDS crisis, which predominantly affected gay men, in the 1980s.
“I’m so grateful that I lived long enough as a gay man of a certain age,” he said. “I lived through the AIDS crisis, honey! I lost a whole generation of folks. (But I) know that I’m part of the generation who kicked the door down.
Billy Porter married Adam Smith in January 2017. They announced their divorce in July 2023.
He’s currently promoting his single “Broke A Sweat” from his upcoming album, The Black Mona Lisa.