Melissa McCarthy got the cover of April’s InStyle, but don’t sleep on the Billy Porter feature and spread inside of it, which also includes a lot of great photos. This one is so dramatic — it’s like Sexy Marilla Cuthbert riding a ferry from PEI to The Great Beyond, freeing the nipple the way she always longed to in life. I really hope that’s how the photographer pitched it.
The piece expands on Billy’s journey from theatre idol to fashion icon:
On his statement-making tuxedo gown from the 2019 Oscars: “As funny as it may sound, I’m a businessman, and wearing that [Oscars] dress was a business decision, in a sense. People were like, ‘Oh, he’s just trying to get attention.’ Well, yeah, I’m in show business! It’s part of my job. Otherwise, I don’t eat.”
On the long-overdue conversation about genderless fashion: “I used to get frustrated that women could wear whatever they wanted and men had to show up in the same penguin suit. The reason why women wearing pants is considered OK by society’s standards is because it comes from the patriarchy. The patriarchy is male, so suits are strong, and anything feminine is weak. I was sick of that discussion, and I knew my platform allowed me to challenge it.” “I had been running from my feminine side for years because I
was told that my queerness would be a liability in this business. And it was for decades—until it wasn’t.”
He also talks about something I somehow missed when it happened — maybe I lost it in the pandemic panic? — which is, he appeared on Sesame Street in his Siriano gown and an Arkansas state senator started an uproar that sparked a movement claiming that the show was trying to “sexualize children using drag queens”:
“It was based on this idea that I’m coming to get their children because of the way I dress,” says Porter, shaking his head. “What is that? I’m over here minding my own business. So why is it triggering you? At that moment, I was grateful that I am a man of a certain age, because when you become a certain age, zero f—s are given. I don’t now, nor will I ever, adjudicate my life or my humanity in [other people’s] sound bites or responses on social media. Simultaneously, it still hurts to have people come after me for nothing.”
If you think, “Well, you’ve shared the whole article,” I have not — you should definitely read the whole thing, because he has so much more to say, including a lot about the continued evolution of his look and his style. I feel like any writer who gets the assignment to profile Billy Porter must be so DELIGHTED because you know you’re going to get a lot of fantastic stories and thoughtful quotes that transcend being merely sound bites.