Years after the original controversy, Billy Porter is finally speaking out about why he was so angry with pop star Harry Styles after he was featured on the cover of Vogue wearing a dress.
In 2020, the “Watermelon Sugar” singer appeared on the cover of the fashion magazine wearing a lace-trimmed dress with a black blazer over the top, making him the first man to ever appear solo on a Vogue cover.
Styles was praised both by fans and the media for breaking traditional gender norms in fashion, but Porter was less than pleased.
At the time the Pose star felt that Styles was getting credit for taking a radical stance by wearing a dress when the previous year Porter had stunned on the Oscars red carpet by wearing a voluminous black velvet tuxedo gown designed by Christian Siriano.
“I created the conversation and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time,” he told The Sunday Times in October 2021.
Porter went on to say that he wasn’t “dragging Harry Styles,” but expressed concern that the singer was being used to “represent the conversation.” He added, “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.”
Porter’s comments were met with fierce criticism from fans of the former-One Direction member, as well as critiques in the media, and condemnation from people who felt he was taking credit for genderfluid fashion even though he’s a cisgender man.
“Billy Porter thinking he, a cisgender male, created the conversation about non-binary fashion is BIPOC trans erasure at its finest,” someone on social media commented at the time, as reported by The Pink News.
Now three years later, Porter finally opened up his frustration with Styles in an interview today with the British newspaper The Telegraph. He explained that months before the release of the magazine cover Vogue editor Ann Wintour had asked him how the magazine could “do better.”
“That b***h said to me at the end, ‘How can we do better?’ And I was so taken off guard that I didn’t say what I should have said,” he said.
If he had not been so caught off guard by the question, Porter revealed that he would have asked the famed editor to “uplift the voices of the leaders of this de-gendering fashion movement.”
“It’s not Harry Styles’s fault that he happens to be white and cute and straight and fit into the infrastructure that way,” Porter explained. “That’s why he’s on the cover. Non-binary blah blah blah blah. No. It doesn’t feel good to me. You’re using my community – or your people are using my community – to elevate you. You haven’t had to sacrifice anything.”