Billy Porter has dragged Vogue for their 2020 cover featuring Harry Styles in a dress.
In a recent interview with The Times UK, Billy Porter criticises Vogue for their 2020 December cover featuring Harry Styles in a dress. He told the publication that “I. Personally. Changed. The. Whole. Game. And that is not ego, that is just fact. I was the first one doing it and now everybody is doing it. 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”.
While the singer insisted he wasn’t trying to actively “bash” on the singer, he stated that Style’s challenging of gender norms was not motivated by a lived experience.
“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 now. All he has to do is be white and straight.”
Reactions to Billy Porter’s statements are definitely mixed. Many state that while Porter is gay, he is also cisgender (when a person’s gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth) and not non-binary, seen as “gatekeeping” men who choose to wear dresses simply because they want to.
The thing w/ Billy Porter is he's also cis. so the diff 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
— matty (@shon_ha_lock) October 17, 2021
I just wish he'd made the Good Point of "don't only praise genderqueer fashion aesthetics when straight men do it" without also the self-aggrandizing bit about he did it first which is just Not True
— Dillon (@iamtheaardvark) October 18, 2021
People were also pointing out examples of men breaking the gender norms in media, decades before Billy Porter’s rise in media.
David Bowie and Freddie Mercury just rolled over in their graves after hearing billy porter say “I changed the whole game”. pic.twitter.com/jk2uKjgfJo
— S (@__pillow__) October 18, 2021
Billy Porter: My nonbinary style “changed the whole game.”
Little Richard 50 to 70 years ago: pic.twitter.com/2Wwcf9EjRH
— Billy (@BillyArmagh) October 19, 2021
His comments also recall how he has previously snubbed his transgender co-stars when he won the Emmy for Pose.
— don ✨ (@ddpain_) October 18, 2021
On the other hand, there has been notable criticism from those who state that he was rightfully calling out the anti-blackness present in the industry. It also brought to mind when Jaden Smith wore a skirt in Vogue Korea and was highly criticised for his appearance.
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 & blackness as leverage". just to defend some dude who gets opportunities because he's white. the "it's not about race" energy is strong pic.twitter.com/YOEkgAlQPi
— han ☭ (@halseyispunk) October 18, 2021
Billy porter called the anti-Blackness out in the industry and didnt tell one lie. He clocked the erasure of Queer Black folks. As he should https://t.co/pjAZBKZh1T
— Jason (Moderna. One Piece stan) (@EscaflowneClown) October 18, 2021