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Billy Porter Calls Out 'Vogue' For Featuring Harry Styles In A Dress: 'I Had To Fight My Entire Life'

Billy Porter Calls Out 'Vogue' For Featuring Harry Styles In A Dress: 'I Had To Fight My Entire Life'
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Actor and singer Billy Porter is not a fan of Harry Styles' Vogue cover appearance which features the former One Direction singer in a dress.

The cover shoot made Styles the first man to appear on the cover of Vogue solo.

Porter, who plays Pray Tell in Netflix series Pose, isn't unhappy because it's a dress. He's upset because he has been wearing gender nonconforming clothing on the red carpet for years.

And Porter's nonbinary styles have not always been received with such open arms.

In an interview with The Sunday Times excerpted by Rolling Stone, Porter said:

"I feel like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to."
"I'm not necessarily convinced and here is why."
"I created the conversation [about gender nonconforming fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight White man, in a dress on their cover for the first time."
"I'm not dragging Harry Styles, but he is the one you're going to try and use to represent this new conversation?"
"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."
"I had to fight my entire life to get to the place where I could wear a dress to the Oscars and not be gunned down."
"All he has to do is be White and straight."

Until as recently as 2011, a person could be arrested in New York City for "impersonating a female" which came from a law enacted in the 19th century prohibiting "dressing as the opposite sex." These laws were used to arrest gender nonconforming people, crossdressers and transgender individuals.

Transgender and gender nonconforming people of color have faced the highest level of discrimination, higher than any other segment of the transgender community—especially Black and non-White Hispanic people.

Trans and gender nonconforming POC are assaulted and killed at an alarming rate in the United States.

Styles' dress wasn't universally well received. He caught outrage from conservatives.

However, Porter's statements have become a point of debate.

Is Styles' cover moment a step in the right direction or an example of racial bias and heteronormativity?


Last year when Styles' covershoot dropped, he said gendered fashion is "limited."

"I've never really thought too much about what it means—it just becomes this extended part of creating something."

Though it seems like a step in the right direction for fashion and acceptance of gender nonconforming individuals, it's also important to lift up our most vulnerable.

That being transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming queer folks of color.