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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.
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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