Billy Porter Challenges Anna Wintour Over Harry Styles’ Vogue Cover
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Billy Porter Challenges Anna Wintour Over Harry Styles’ Vogue Cover

billy porter

Billy Porter isn’t holding back. More than two years after Harry Styles made history by becoming the first solo man to appear on the cover of Vogue, the Pose star has spoken up about the choice, noting that he believes the British singer ended up on the cover because he is “white and straight”.

“I don’t feel good about it,” Porter said in an interview with The Telegraph published on August 14th. “You are leveraging the work of my community to elevate yourself without having to make any sacrifices or take any risks.”

The Kinky Boots star—known for his electric style choices that often defy gender binaries—then went on to speak about a conversation he had had with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour months prior to the magazine’s Styles cover.

“At the end she asked me, ‘How can we do better?’ I was taken aback and I probably should have said something like ‘Use your power at Vogue to uplift the voices of leaders spearheading this de-gendering of fashion movement.’ This is what equality looks like.” Billy says.

Six months ago, Billy Porter brought up a valid point on the cover of Vogue: the absence of a black male on its front page. While the Pose actor was careful not to point a finger at Harry Styles directly – who graced the magazine’s cover this June – he did express his disappointment about “the infrastructure” that allows white, straight and attractive people to be put in the spotlight.

Vogue was quick to respond, admitting guilt and recognizing the work of Porter aiming to normalize genderless fashion. This isn’t the first time that Porter has opened up about the need for more visibility for people of color – previously he noted how it serves as a form of erasure for those who deserve attention just as much.

It’s time for fashion icons to start actively advocating for inclusion and equality in the industry, and to ensure all voices are represented in magazines and campaigns.

In October 2021, Pose star Billy Porter made headlines when he spoke to The Sunday Times about the fashion industry and their inclusion of non-binary people. Questioning why the industry chose to put Harry Styles, a straight white man, on the cover of Vogue in a dress when Porter himself had done so much to create the conversation about non-binary fashion, he said: “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.”

One month later, Porter clarified his comments further on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He wanted to make one thing clear – this wasn’t about Harry Styles. Instead, he was talking about systems of oppression that have routinely erased people of color from the conversation. “I’m willing to unpack it,” Porter urged, “sans the dragging and cancel culture of the Internet, because I do not now, nor will ever, adjudicate my life or humanity in sound bites on social media.”

The actor ended his explanation with an apology and statement of support for Harry Styles: “I’m sorry, Harry. I didn’t mean no harm. I’m a gay man. We like Harry, he’s cute!”

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