Billy Porter says religious homophobes don’t need to worry about his ‘salvation’ – just give him respect
In becoming the first openly gay man to cover ESSENCE magazine, Billy Porter delivered a grand creed on the impunity felt by those who slay Black folk and addressed the concerns expressed by religious homophobes over his “salvation”.
The Pose star featured on the magazine’s July/August 2020 issue in an Aliétte dress and Christian Siriano hat, perfect attire to discuss the turbulent political climate.
“Stop killing us!” Porter screamed, “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.”
Billy Porter: ‘Activism is in my DNA.’
As the Black Lives Matter protests seize the iron grid streets of the US, the protests have constellated around the death of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer and the killings of two Black trans women, Dominique Fells and Riah Milton, shortly after a Black trans man, Tony McDade, was killed by the police.
For as much as LGBT+ activists have secured a roster of rights in recent years, Black trans women are killed with such harrowing frequency that the American Medical Association has declared it an epidemic.
In the interview, Porter, 50, urged that the chant that has echoed across canyons of city skyscrapers – “Black lives matter” – to be extended to all Black lives, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Addressing Black conservatives, he said: “You all want to act like you’re concerned about our salvation, but don’t worry about my salvation.
“Let me do that. If you think I’m going to hell, you keep that s**t to yourself. I don’t need tolerance. I don’t need acceptance. We demand respect for our humanity, too.”
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“You want the police to stop being brutal. Okay. Yeah, I’m with you, but this f***ot over here that you all love to f**k with, I’m Black first.”
Porter stressed his praise of platforms that, rather than shrugging off or ignoring the pleas of queer Black folk, are carving out space to listen, educate and amplify.
“I’m very excited to engage in this conversation and have ESSENCE have my back because it’s those of us in positions of power in our community who can change the conversation,” he said.
“I’m so moved by the olive branch that this is saying to the world and to our community collectively, that LGBTQ+ Black people are Black people first and we need to be supported and honored too. Stop killing us like everybody else is.”
He added: “Being first-generation post-civil rights and feeding directly into, as a gay man, the AIDS crisis, activism is in my DNA.
“And while I don’t fancy myself an organiser, you tell me where to show up, I’m going to show up. I’m that kind of activist.”