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Billy Porter reveals the heartbreaking reason why his groundbreaking Pose sex scene was ‘the hardest thing to do’

Josh Milton August 27, 2020
Billy Porter (R) and Dyllon Burnside on Pose. (FX)

Billy Porter (R) and Dyllon Burnside on Pose. (FX)

Billy Porter has said that filming his first-ever sex scene on Pose was a very “difficult” thing for him to do, being the first romantic scene he’d shot with a man.

Pose season two sees Porter’s character Pray Tell sleep with Ricky Wintour (Dyllón Burnside) as their friendship blossoms into a romance that roils some of the other characters.

The scenes were applauded by fans and critics as a rare – if not unique – portrayal of two queer Black men having sex on a mainstream TV show.

But the 50-year-old told Entertainment Weekly‘s The Awardist podcast that filming the scenes provoked an intense internal struggle, saying it was “probably the hardest and most difficult thing for me to do”.

“As a Black queer man who has lived in a space for 30 years of being the magical fairy on the side, of never, ever being the object of anyone’s affection in anything in my entire career, ever… I’ve not had a kiss in anything,” he said.

“Not on stage, not on nothing. I haven’t been the object of anybody’s affection.”

He described how an on-stage kiss during his work on the musical Dreamgirls was a “different experience” because it was with a woman. As a gay man, he said, he felt “detached from it”.

The Pose scene was seismic to him, in part, because it was an authentic depiction of gay Black men living with HIV having sex.

But as much the scene holds a lot of emotional weight for the star, Porter admitted he has only managed to watch it back once as he’s simply not used to seeing himself in sex scenes.

“I can’t even watch it,” he said.

“Not because of what I look like, just because I’m still trying to find a space where I can be comfortable watching myself have sex on-screen.

“It is not easy to watch. I watched it with my husband the first time and we were both like [grimaces]. We squealed!”

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