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Billy Porter’s choice words for Vogue over featuring Harry Styles

"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."
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Harry Styles was celebrated when he appeared on the front cover of American Vogue last December wearing a dress.

The cult fashion magazine made history when it featured the singer as its first-ever male cover star, with the 27-year-old donning the androgynous style he’s become known for in recent years. 

WATCH Harry Styles performs Watermelon Sugar at the Grammys 2021

But among the chorus of praise from within the fashion and music industries, fans, and the rest of the world, some within the LGBTQIA+ community have taken offence at the fanfare over Harry wearing dresses. 

One such person is proudly gay actor Billy Porter, who coined the men wearing dresses trend many moons ago. 

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Billy pointed out that queer people haven’t been recognised for their own, original, contributions to fashion. 

“I changed the whole game… And that is not ego, that is just fact. I was the first one doing it and now everybody is doing it,” the 52-year-old said. 

Billy went on to say that he was only accepted and welcomed by the fashion industry because “they have to”.

Billy Porter
Billy pointed out that queer people haven’t been recognised for their own, original, contributions to fashion. (Credit: Getty)

The Like a Boss star also took umbrage that Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour chose to put Harry on the cover over him, despite him starting the conversation about non-binary fashion. 

“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,” he explained.

“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.”

Harry Styles
Billy made a point that he wasn’t “dragging” Harry. (Credit: Getty)

While Billy is undoubtedly a trailblazer when it comes to men wearing women’s fashion, Harry had been donning androgynous clothing in public prior to his landmark Vogue cover shoot.

Styles, who is currently dating actress Olivia Wilde, has only publicly been romantically linked to women since finding fame with One Direction, but has never identified himself as straight per se.

“Am I sprinkling in nuggets of sexual ambiguity to try and be more interesting? No. In terms of how I wanna dress, and what the album sleeve’s gonna be, I tend to make decisions in terms of collaborators I want to work with,” he said in an interview with The Guardian.

Harry Styles, Billy Porter
While Billy is undoubtedly a trailblazer when it comes to men wearing women’s fashion, Harry had been donning androgynous clothing in public prior to his landmark Vogue cover shoot (Credit: Getty)

“I want things to look a certain way. Not because it makes me look gay, or it makes me look straight, or it makes me look bisexual, but because I think it looks cool. And more than that, I dunno, I just think sexuality’s something that’s fun. Honestly? I can’t say I’ve given it any more thought than that.

“If I see a nice shirt and get told, ‘But it’s for ladies.’ I think: ‘Okaaaay? Doesn’t make me want to wear it less though’.”

When asked if his song Fine Lines was about his rumoured sexuality, Harry responded by reminding those that his sexual preference shouldn’t be a talking point, because at the end of the day…who cares? 

“It’s not like I’m sitting on an answer, and protecting it, and holding it back,” he told the publication.

Harry Styles
When asked if his song Fine Lines was about his rumoured sexuality, Harry responded by reminding those that his sexual preference shouldn’t be a talking point (Credit: Getty)

“It’s not a case of: I’m not telling you cause I don’t want to tell you. It’s not: Ooh, this is mine and it’s not yours. It’s: who cares? Does that make sense? It’s just: who cares?”

As for what Harry thinks about interviewers thinking its appropriate to probe someone about their sexuality, he said that he respects the question, as long as the asker respects that they may not get an answer. 

“What I would say, about the whole being-asked-about-my-sexuality thing — this is a job where you might get asked. And to complain about it, to say you hate it, and still do the job, that’s just silly,” he said.

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