Billy Porter Was Told He Wasn’t “Masculine Enough” As A Child

Photo: Kevork Djansezian/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images.
Whether he’s wearing a black tuxedo gown or a feathered cape, Billy Porter is always one of the best-dressed celebs on the red carpet. And now, he’s making history as the first man on the cover of Allure. In the magazine’s February 2020 cover story, Porter opened up about how he developed his impeccable sense of style — and shared that this expression wasn’t always encouraged.
In fact, Porter said, his family sent him to a psychologist as a five-year-old because he wasn’t “masculine enough.” "The heteronormative construct that masculinity is better silenced me for many years,” he said. “It was like my masculinity was in question before I could even comprehend the thought.”
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He continued, “I was sent to a psychologist at five years old because I was a sissy and my family was afraid. I love them. They didn't know. It was a different time."
Some of his earliest memories are of those visits: "I was in kindergarten, being taken to this white man in this big building to just talk to him for an hour every Wednesday after school. That's one of the first memories I have as a child, that something's wrong with you and you need to be fixed based on ‘You're not masculine enough.' I carried that with me for my whole life until, like, two and a half minutes ago. You know?" 
As an adult, Porter faced the same criticism as he tried to make it as an R&B singer. "Flamboyance was a silencing mechanism for a long time with me. Flamboyant was code for ‘You're a f*****, and we don't want you,’” he said. “Flamboyant was a word that was used to marginalize me and pigeonhole me and keep me in a box.”
Now, “I have been blessed to have a second chance,” Porter says of the fame brought on by his Emmy-winning performance on Pose. And this time, he’s embracing his authentic self. “The very thing that everybody's telling you is wrong is exactly what you have to be,” he said.
Porter also spoke out about growing up during the AIDS epidemic. Born in 1969, Porter was in his teens and twenties during the '80s and '90s, when Pose takes place. "We lost an entire generation,” he said. “But for me, I like to live in the present and in the positive. And what it's left inside of me is the fire to tell the story and to fill the void.”
He concluded, “I'm a part of the first generation of gay men, ever, who gets to be out loud and proud in the world. My generation is the first. Bitches are scared. And they should be."
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