On Friday, The Telegraph published an interview with Porter where he dished on the SAG-AFTRA/WGA strike, living with HIV, and Styles’s December 2020 Vogue cover. In a historic moment, Styles graced the cover of the famous fashion magazine wearing a Gucci lace dress and a million think pieces were written about Styles “de-gendering fashion”.
Well, Porter spilled the tea about meeting with Wintour months before the Styles’ historic cover dropped and how she posed an interesting question to him at the end of their conversation.
“That b**** 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,” Porter said in his interview. “Use your power as Vogue to uplift the voices of the leaders of this de-gendering of fashion movement … Six months later, Harry Styles is the first man on the cover.”
Well, needless to say Porter was not amused, initially questioning Styles’ place in the conversation around de-gendering fashion. He even discussed in The Sunday Times in October 2021 how Styles was capitalizing on being trendy with his gender neutral wardrobe.
“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,” Porter said. “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.”
Actor, director, and singer Billy Porter is set to play acclaimed novelist, essayist, and activist James Baldwin in a feature about his life.
He has since apologized to Styles about his remarks, stating that his gripe isn’t with the 29-year-old singer, but his thoughts on Styles’ cover still remain. However, it seems that he still has a bone to pick with Wintour. While he doesn’t fault Styles for being “white”, “cute”, “straight”, and fitting “into the infrastructure that way”, his disappointment comes from Wintour and other “gatekeepers” for not elevating LGBTQ+ representation with their platforms.
“It’s not Harry Styles’ fault that he happens to be white and cute and straight and fit into the infrastructure that way,” Porter said. “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.”
Styles keeps mum about his sexuality, which doesn’t help his case as the poster child for de-gendering fashion when openly queer and trans folks have been playing this game and being punished for doing so for years. So, Porter is rightfully bothered by Styles and other seemingly straight, cis men leading the de-gendering fashion movement. But Styles is only given this platform to wear platform heels on covers due to the Anna Wintours of the fashion industry.
Porter thinks it’s long overdue to give LGBTQ+ folks their just dues when it comes to influencing fashion.