Billy Porter isn’t new to breaking ground for the LGBTQ community. He became the first Black gay man to win an Emmy for his acting performances. He was the first male-identified cover star of Allure magazine back in January, and today, he makes history as the first openly gay man to cover Essence magazine.
The story, released digitally Tuesday (June 30), chronicles the Pose actor and multi-hyphenate star’s relationship with his identity as a Black gay man and the pushback he received for being gay and Black in the music and entertainment industries.
Porter also describes his transformation from facing unemployment and bankruptcy to the massive success of Pose, among many other endeavors. He says the show was the first time he was fully able to bring himself into a role.
“We’re like a dysfunctional family who keeps secrets and doesn’t want to talk about it,” he said in the cover story, describing America's past with racism and enslavement. “They don’t want to talk about the actual thing. They want to act like the actual thing never happened, so that there’s never a healing that can take place. White people are so afraid that we want vengeance that they can’t acknowledge the truth."
According to Porter, when people say “Black Lives Matter,” he wants everyone to remember that all Black Lives Matter.
"Stop killing us!" Porter says in the story. "Our trans women are out here dying at the hands of our own. We can't ask for anything more than what we're ready to give. It starts with us first, and I'm calling it out."
He continued: "Don't worry about my salvation. Let me do that. If you think I'm going to hell, you keep that sh*t to yourself. I don't need tolerance, I don't need acceptance; we demand respect for our humanity, too."
Read the full Essence cover featuring Billy Porter here.