“Pose” star Billy Porter is on the cover of the new issue of Gay Times, and in the feature story he opens up about coming out as gay in the mid-1980s.
“I was trying to get out of my circumstances and remove myself from the trauma and the toxic energy that was my childhood and my early teenage development,” he said, according to JustJared. “It was very traumatic and it was homophobic – it was violently homophobic and I knew then that if I was going to survive, I was going to have to extract myself from that.”
Luckily, Porter found support in his new community of arts and theatre.
“I found the arts and I found the theatre,” he said, “a community that embraced me for who I am, and as I went deeper and deeper into that community, I discovered we were in the middle of a plague and had to fight.”
The 49-year-old also offered the advice he would give now as an adult to his 16-year-old self.
“I would say that the first thing you must do, which I did, is extract yourself from the danger,” he said. “Extract yourself from the people who don’t know how to love you. Extract yourself from anything that’s toxic. Change the narrative of, ‘I need the love of people, my mother, my father, my family to exist on the planet’. No! We don’t need acceptance, we don’t need tolerance, we need respect for our humanity. We demand respect for our humanity and we will give respect for everyone else so that we can all move forward.”
Porter continued, “Everybody’s humanity is valid, even if we don’t understand it or like it. That’s what I would tell my younger self and anybody today that you must do. You must break free. It’s the only way you will survive.”