Billy Porter: If Trump gets a second term ‘America is done. Rome fell.’

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FX’s Pose star, Billy Porter, spoke to The Daily Beast right after he heard about his Emmy nomination for lead actor in a drama, his second after winning the category last year. He talked about his struggle to be seen as a gay Black man, how his masculinity has been question and what led him to embrace his queerness. He also stressed how important it is for the younger generation to be engaged in this year’s election. He said if Donald Trump gets a second term it will be the end to America as we know it. Here are a few excerpts:

On the trans actors in Pose being ignored for Emmys
“I have to hold space for all of it at the same time. Because essentially, as a Black gay man for the last 30 plus years of my life, I have gone unseen. So I know what it looks like. I know what it feels like. I know the pain that comes along with being unseen, with being dismissed, with being ignored. I have lived it until five and a half minutes ago. You know what I mean? It’s like, it’s literally just changed for me.”

On his masculinity being in question
“My masculinity has been in question from the moment I can comprehend thought… trying to be masculine enough to be acceptable on this planet, trying to be masculine enough so that so that I could get a job, so I could eat,”

“It’s easy to be who you are when what you are is what’s popular. Leaning into queerness, leaning into my gayness when there were no jobs on the horizon—when I had to file for bankruptcy, when I was hopping from sofa to sofa.”

“I was never considered the sex symbol. I was never considered the pretty one. I was never considered the leading man.”

On AIDS activism and having to fight again for BLM
“We wanted to create a better life for our people—and we did it,”

“These kids never thought that their rights would go away—and their rights are going away. Everybody’s rights are going away… In a country that is built on taking rights away from people. On stolen land. And then stole a group of people to come over here and build the land for you; cultivate the land for you. And we’re still talking about rights!”

“I always joke—I tease and I joke, but you know truth comes out in jest… I say, ‘White people are mad now, so maybe something might get done…

“[If Trump gets a second term] America is done… Remember, Rome fell. Rome fell, motherf-ker! Don’t get cocky.”

[From The Daily Beast]

I love Billy Porter’s straight forward approach to speaking his truth. And he is right, many from the younger generation never saw losing their rights as an option. I hope that it will lead to the same increased turn out from the youth that we saw when Obama ran for office. I understand that many of us are just tired of the chaos and the broken promises but where we are headed is real.

Even Thomas Jefferson said that, “Every generation needs a revolution.” There is no truer statement than this. I have seen throughout history that fights that are won tend to only last the generation that fought for them. By the next generation, especially the one that didn’t see the fight first hand, the ground that was won can be lost.

My favorite quote from this article is when Porter said, “people are awake” and the author paraphrased “especially those liberal allies who refused to believe Black people when they said putting a Black president in the White House did not end racism.” I felt that sh*t because I have been screaming it since 2008. It got really bad for Black people during the Obama years. Not because Obama was a bad president, but because a lot of White people really believed racism was over. In fact, the majority of white people ignored the initial BLM movement. The pain of their silence was excruciating. With that being said, I agree, I am glad more people are awake and are fighting for justice and to sustain our rights. The orange man and his cronies must go.

I do believe it takes courage to live life authentically. I also believe that when we live authentically every opportunity comes our way. I really feel him when he says leaning into his queerness, despite it not being popular at the time ,was freeing. That’s what got him finally seen and now we get to celebrate him in his velvet tuxedo dress and shade hat glory. Also being authentic is hella sexy Sir Billy so embrace being a sex symbol. Hopefully, the trans women from the cast will also be recognized in the future for their performances. Until then, I will keep listening to our fairy god-uncle Billy.

View this post on Instagram

It took me a minute to process all of the conflicting thoughts I had about yesterday. A record number of Black actors received #Emmy nominations this year, myself included. For that, I am grateful. . I have been doing this for a long, long time. It has taken me 30 years to get recognized for my work. If you had told me at 20 that I would win my first Emmy at 50…that I would win at all would have been inconceivable. But that I would have to wait that long would have been disappointing, frustrating, heartbreaking. I know the pain of being overlooked so well. Too well. . When I look at my Emmy win last year, I see the exuberant joyfulness in the faces of my #Pose family. MY win is THEIR win. And just as we share in each other’s happiness, we all share in each other’s pain. For me, @poseonfx lives at the intersection of art and activism and that is important to me. But I am keenly aware that for my SISTERS – it is much, much deeper than that. This is the story of their LIVES. . I love you @mjrodriguez7 @angelicaross @dominiquet.a.r.jackson @indyamoore @hailiesahar . Thank you @mrrpmurphy @stevencanals @janetmock @ourladyj @ryanjamaalswain @dyllonburnside @angelbcuriel

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39 Responses to “Billy Porter: If Trump gets a second term ‘America is done. Rome fell.’”

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  1. Redgrl says:

    Truth. Mr Redgrl and I have been talking about this – he recently said “watching what’s going on in the US is like watching the fall of the Roman Empire.” Not only is the country’s influence declining world wide, but so is the respect of former allies and the country is tearing itself apart internally. I sincerely hope for change in November – the US and the world can’t take another four years of this madness.

    • MOT says:

      I have thought that too…”so this is how empires fall…we are living thru it”.

    • Seraphina says:

      Rome has been burning for four years. Rome will fall if he gets another 4 is truth.

    • MaryContrary says:

      We’ve been saying the same thing. Empires don’t last forever. I think this is the end of our democracy. I’d like to be optimistic-I have children and it makes me feel physically ill that this is what they’ll have to contend with-but I don’t see anything positive. Reading about people buying weapons, the rise of Q-Anon and other conspiracy theories, the huge disparities that are staring everyone in the face, hate groups emboldened-we are watching our country fall into chaos.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      about 9 months ago, I said to my bf “we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the United States.”

      It may take another 10 years for it to fully happen, but we are going to break into (at least) two countries, blue going one way and red the other. 50 different states with 330,000,000 million people is not sustainable. MOST of us want to live together and support each other, but you have a significant minority that doesn’t. they want ONLY christian whites and want the gov’t to recognize ONLY those people as worthy of support.

      • Esmom says:

        I have been thinking about the Red State/Blue State thing for a few years now. I honestly cannot imagine any other way to move past our current situation. If Trump loses in Nov, I may have some hope that this sinking ship may be wrestled back on course eventually but if he wins, no way. We are done.

    • Alyse says:

      Yeah as a non-American born in 1989, I feel like I grew up watching the last peak of the US as a superpower (the 90s) since 9/11 tbh the downfall in trust, power & prestige began in earnest (though a glimmer of hope with the Obama’s) and a total crash & burn ‘this is the end’ in the past 4 years.
      Not the first superpower it’s happened to, and won’t be the last.

  2. Lightpurple says:

    If Trump wins re-election and the Senate, the United States will cease to exist in its current form by December.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      I am nothing less than incensed, nearly incandescent with rage this last year.
      It’s costing me a small fortune in immodium.

      I’d like to see every sitting US republican senator tried for treason.

      • waitwhat says:

        NSSB: So *you’re* the reason they are always out when I go to the store?? Seriously, I’m right there with you. I am so tired of being tired and even more so, mad.

  3. Mumbles says:

    I completely agree with him and the idea that it’s come this close gives me the sinking feeling that it’s already fallen already. Even if Trump loses, there are Cotton and Hawley standing in the wings for the next election. There will need to be big accomplishments by the new administration to win over the middle and they’ll need the Senate to get them.

    • Esmom says:

      The only consolation I take from the idea of Trump losing is I am not sure if Cotton and Hawley and their ilk would be viable candidates anymore. Who knows, I have been proven to be a naive chump over and over since 2016.

      • Mumbles says:

        I hear you and the bleak hope I have is that Trump’s base loves HIM as a personality and will lose interest in voting when he’s gone.

  4. Trillion says:

    I think he’ll win the electoral college again like before. His base is way more galvanized this time around, and I don’t see people motivated by Biden like they were for HRC. Get ready, people. 🙁

    • Esmom says:

      I don’t know about that. The blue wave is real and with Biden we don’t have the baggage of visceral hate for Hillary that was created and caused lots of people who otherwise would have voted Democrat to sit out in 2016. I just said I have been proven naive over and over again but I do think several key states are in play.

    • Maida says:

      I don’t know about that either. One thing that makes me hopeful is that people don’t seem complacent this time — in 2016 I knew a lot of people who were so sure Clinton would win that they didn’t feel any urgency to get out and vote or help the campaign. This time a lot more people seem to get what’s at stake. But it’s up to each of us to do as much as we can.

  5. Leah says:

    He’s absolutely right. I’m terrified at the idea of another four years of the orange menace.

  6. Perry says:

    i still don’t understand the White House and his enabling clowns get away with so much deceit, cheating, hate and criminal activity…..and Nothing ever happens to them. Media just reports how bad everything is and debate about it, endlessly. Trump needs to be removed.

    • MaryContrary says:

      We have zero checks and balances at this point-and he’s surrounded himself with Nazis that will do anything he demands.

  7. Snuffles says:

    Honestly, I’m low key looking into which countries are the easiest to immigrate to.

    I’m scared. Even though I too see the people waking up, I’m worried that the current administration will do everything in their power to suppress the vote and steal the election.

    I’m worried if he does lose, Trump will just lay waste to the US between the time he loses until the time Biden is inaugurated.

    Part of me wants him to drop dead and release us all. My father wants him clearly and decisively voted out. I do too but I don’t think Trump would EVER go quietly.

    • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

      Snuffles, you’re not alone. I’ve been thinking about it, too. If it wasn’t for my dad (I’m his primary caretaker, and he’s almost 93) I’d be gathering packing boxes and be ready to head out by December.

      I still feel like we’re in some giant, surreal nightmare that we just can’t wake up from! I’m truly scared for us (the *sane* ones!).

      • BnLurkN4eva says:

        To think I used to love scary movies, not anymore. I also used to love zombie movies, but the pandemic took care of that. We are really living in a real horror movie and there’s seems to be no ending where you can breathe a sigh of relief that the good guys survive and life goes on.

    • fun factor says:

      I’ve been investigating countries to emigrate to for over a year. Now that my mom has passed at 92, I could actually go (if my passport is processed). My daughter, her husband, and their 2 children are planning to leave as soon as she finishes her nursing program. We have friends in Brittany, France, and that’s our target. I’m 72 and NO one wants an elderly retired artist, so that lets out Canada, NZ, and Australia. Should Biden win, that will buy some time, but Snuffles is right that trump will utterly savage what’s left of the country in the lame duck period before January. I just hope he doesn’t have the authentic nuclear code….

  8. Jaded says:

    I woke up this morning around 5:00am, looked outside and couldn’t see across the street for the smoke. I live in Victoria, Vancouver Island, and we’ve been inundated with so much smoke from the hundreds of fires burning in California, Oregon and Washington that we haven’t been able to go outside for more than a few minutes at a time, all masked up due to contagion and toxic air. Each morning I awaken with my eyes stinging, nose running, and cough for about half an hour. Each day I put on my mask, run across the street for groceries, and run back to our condo. Victoria has a temperate climate and nobody needs air conditioning. Except for now.

    This morning, for the first time, I felt truly depressed, worried, anxious and like we’re all fucked. And then I read this article and I thought how truly Billy Porter represents everyone who has ever felt helpless, pushed around, neglected, squashed down by life and treated badly NOT because he’s an awful person but the opposite. He’s stayed positive, worked hard, made his blackness and gayness into something positive so he can influence people pushing against the same negativity and bias to stay true to themselves and pave the way for others to follow their true path. And it made me feel better, more hopeful, and thankful for all I have. Bless you Billy.

    • Esmom says:

      Very well said, Jaded. Wishing you clearer days ahead.

    • Petrichor says:

      @Jaded, you’ve expressed this so well. I’m in Kelowna & my sister is in Victoria, and the sense of impending doom is palpable. I think the whole of the Western world is terrified for November. And Canada isn’t safe from the same sort of political unrest we’re seeing down South. My ultra-liberal, NDP-supporting aunt lives in the heart of Alberta’s Trump country and she is scared. She told me she’d fear for her personal safety if she were to advertise that she’s a leftie. If civil war does hit the US after this election… Canada is vulnerable and in many ways just as divided as the States. I have no doubt that if there is a Fall election here the Conservatives will win, and that scares me—a lot.

      • Jaded says:

        Exactly. I’m dreading the thought of a fall election and it would be the worst possible time to have an election. Canada is being infected with the Trump virus and giving voice to the worst but most vocal minority of uber-conservatives, white supremacists and conspiracy theorists. Let’s just get over the US election before we even consider Canada’s next steps.

    • JJ says:

      Hi Jaded,
      I work in Victoria too (and Sooke) and it is crazy how bad it is. I feel like I can’t think and even going outside to feed my goldfish I’m coughing. Also for the first time I’m thinking of investing in an air purifier. It makes me feel so depressed to think about Trump winning again, especially when climate change and how these fires are treated are so effected by what politics are down there. Any moment of hope is nice, though sometimes it hurts to hope too..

      • Jaded says:

        Invest in an air purifier – ours has been running 24 hours a day and it does make a difference.

        I’m trying not to dwell on the upcoming US election other than thinking positive thoughts otherwise I’ll become overwhelmed with doom. I can’t imagine what rational, thoughtful and intelligent Americans must be going through. The world, not just the US, is teetering on the brink of mass extinction of species, mass deaths due to covid, massive climate change resulting in widespread destruction from fire and drought, deadly hurricanes one after another, economic collapse and civil insurrection. That all of this came under Trump’s watch only reinforces that he is a despicable monster of a human being who couldn’t handle a 2-man funeral procession let alone disasters of this magnitude.

        Everyone must vote with a conscience, not just party allegiance – maybe you’re a Republican but please, PLEASE vote this utter shitstorm out of office.

  9. Charlie says:

    Genuinely scared about Trump getting a second term. I emigrated to the UK with my parents pre college but it’s been painful to see the downwards spiral and impact of the current administration both at home and on the wider global community. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a political dumpster fire here too but Trump is another level.

  10. Nicole says:

    I mean, I get that it is usually only in movies that everyone gets duped by the evil genius who was masquerading as normal person and that the right has used the second most popular plot line of “find a stooge moron and use him to further your evil agenda by letting him think he’s the one in charge”, but the knowledge that this country is being destroyed from within by one of the absolute most worthless people to have ever drawn breath is maddening.

  11. lanne says:

    I grew up in an all white environment. White culture was my “norm” even for me as a black woman. I never saw overt racism–even though I now realize that there were situations I didn’t really understand as a child. White people were my friends, teachers, neighbors, mentors. We did attend black church in Denver, and I did, in high school, make black friends, but I have always felt as if I understood white people as friends, peers, lovers sometimes even, colleagues.

    That changed in 2016. After the election of Trump, I realized that so many of the white people I saw as friends and even family didn’t see me to same way. or perhaps, they saw ME, but didn’t see where I came from (which meant they really didn’t see ME at all in that old “I don’t see color” sense. I think they may have seen me as a fellow white person with browner skin. Which is a way of erasing my identity and reality. Since 2016 here in the US, I look at white people, esp. white women, with more caution. The people who I thought were my friends, maybe they really aren’t my friends. How can you be friends with someone you fundamentally refuse to see? I do have white friends that I trust and love, but I look at white people as a whole with much more suspicion.

    I’ve studied Nazi Germany extensively, and it always galls me to think that so many German Jewish people saw themselves as German first, and that so many of their friends and neighbors did nothing while they were targeted, persecuted, and then killed–those friends and neighbors even profitted from their deaths. What makes Americans any different? We have immigrant children living in camps away from their parents and no one seems to care. We have ICE raids and no one cares.

    I’m an optimist and an idealist, and I have to hope that many white people who voted for Trump b/c he was “something different” are horrified. Because there’s absolutely no rationale to vote for him now. He has utterly failed by any measure of leadership. The only thing he brings to the table is racial animus, and white supremacy. I’m shocked at how important white supremacy is for so many people. I’m surprised at the number of people who will sacrifice their own futures, their children’s futures, even the planet to white supremacy.

    If Trump wins again, it will be because a majority of white people vote him in. I have a feeling we’re all about to find out about the soul of white people as a group in November. I wish I could feel more confident about what that meant.

    • Petrichor says:

      @Lanne, as a white woman, your comment breaks my heart. Thank you, though, for your openness and honesty about your experiences. I’ve been doing so much soul searching these last few months to try to unpack all the ways my white privilege has shielded me throughout my life. I’ve had friends of colour my whole life, but I’ve certainly been guilty of the “I don’t see colour” mindset. I’ve always thought of myself as an ally, but have felt so much shame these last few months as I own up to all the unintentionally racist things I have said and done in my 44 years—things the blinders of my white privilege have allowed me to not see. So I take to heart your comment, and Billy Porter’s statement that maybe things will change now that white people are on board. That makes me so sad, but I do think that it is true.

      If anyone is interested, the book White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for White People to Talk about Racism is excellent, as is pretty much anything written by bell hooks about white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

    • BnLurkN4eva says:

      Wow! This is powerful and true and I am so so scared. I’ve literally never been this scared in my life. I’m trying to not give up hope and to keep fighting. I hope with all my heart that there are just enough decent people in this country to get us out of this nightmare we find ourselves in.

    • Jaded says:

      @Ianne – Trump has certainly been a lightening rod for white privilege and the deliberate ignoring of what has been a simmering problem for many generations. Maybe what’s come out of the sheer lunacy and hatefulness of Trump’s presidency is a renewed focus on how entrenched racial bias still is in society, and how so many white people have settled into a complacency that everything is OK when it clearly has been an ongoing problem all along. Trump has shone a harsh and unforgiving spotlight on everything ugly about America and done nothing to mitigate the racial tensions, in fact he’s done everything he can to incite racial division. I hope with all my heart that this election will be a turning point in America’s history.

  12. Sorella says:

    I was just saying that the other day to my husband – that the opinion about the US will decline even further on the world stage if he gets in again . And that Americans will be in trouble for another 4 years and I feel so bad, it hurts me to think of that for Canada closest neighbors (and it affect us to in some ways as their trading partner). The US have maybe never been beloved all over the world, but they have always been respected and appreciated.

    • Anna says:

      The opinion about the US has been in the shitter for a long time and rightly so. It’s only Americans who somehow think they’re seen in a special golden light. Americans need to stop thinking only about how they’re being seen by others and start focusing on cleaning up the shitstorm they’ve created. (And I say this as a Black woman desperately trying to find a way to leave here once and for all)

  13. emu says:

    a national treasure

  14. dreamchild says:

    I am a 64 yr old Black American woman. I come from a what would have been considered a middle class family in the 60s so it was ordinary except that my family loved oversea travel which was extraordinary for a black family of 2 parents and 2 girls to do in that era. We traveled to Europe Africa in the 60s and when I got old enough to chose, every Caribbean island cause I LOVE the beach.

    I bring this up to explain the birdseye view I had of mostly White Americans overseas. The trope of the ugly American was so true. Even as a young kid I would get embarrassed at the behavior of my fellow Americans. The way I was treated as a black child in white spaces was a whole other story. They acted as if I was some kind of other species. They wanted to touch my hair and skin in a mostly in a non threatening way but still really weird. They totally behaved as if the races were all cool in America which was Hello the sixties. My sister and I also went to private schools in NYC and in my case was the only black person in my class until high school. I had black friends in my neighborhood so I was always straddling between the races and classes.

    My point in all this is I was so naive about my friendships and interactions with white folks. I really often thought it was genuine. Since 2016 and Trump my blinders have been ripped off. The people I cared about and respected have shown themselves to be racist at worst and completely without empathy at best with how they view Black Americans. I have 3 black sons and 5 grandsons who I worry about every single day and have for the last 40 years. I have retired early from my job and relocated from Florida back to NYC because I literally did not feel safe anymore. I thought people who lived near the beach were my tribe even if they were mostly white. I will say that I read a saying here on Celebitchy that truly gave me clarity about most of my relationships with white people. “You are treated as a pet until you became a threat.” I had that “AHA moment!” It really cleared up a lot of hurt feelings and misunderstandings on my part about my professional and personal interactions.

    I try to remain hopeful about the future because that is my nature but it is so hard. I feel so betrayed by my country and by so many white people who I honestly thought were allies but now seem to be enemies. I am literally heartbroken. Thanks for listening and letting me vent Celebitches.