Billy Porter has some choice words for Anna Wintour.
In a recent interview with The Telegraph, the Tony winner explained that he had a meeting with Wintour and the staff of Condé Nast before they put Harry Styles on the cover of Vogue in 2020.
“That bitch 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,” which was, “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.”
But his issue isn’t with Styles. “It’s not Harry Styles’ fault that he happens to be white and cute and straight and fit into the infrastructure that way,” he said, adding, “I call out the gatekeepers.”
Styles has been fielding queerbaiting accusations for a while now but is still for some reason held up as an example of non-binary expression, presumably because he sometimes wears bellbottoms. Whatever, he can dress however he wants, but the fact remains that he is a straight, cis-gendered white man, so should he really be the representative for a conversation about queerness in fashion? It’s a conversation that has been going on within the queer community long before Harry Styles or Anna Wintour caught wind of it, and Porter played a crucial part in bringing it to the fore.
“You’re using my community—or your people are using my community—to elevate you. You haven’t had to sacrifice anything,” 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.”
As for Styles, he’s addressed the upset by saying “I think everyone, including myself, has your own journey with figuring out sexuality and getting more comfortable with it.”
The issue here, as Porter said, is with figureheads like Wintour who, unfortunately, wield immense power of influence over what is deemed culturally important and interesting. Queerness is not a trend, and shouldn’t be worn as a costume in the name of consumerism.