Billy Porter On Opening Up The Conversation About Genderless Fashion: ‘My Platform Allowed Me To Challenge It’

Billy Porter is continuing the conversation of making fashion genderless.

The “Pose” actor, 51, joined InStyle for a feature in the magazine’s upcoming April issue and talked about fashion, his iconic tuxedo gown at the Oscars and being a fashion influencer.

On making style genderless, Porter says, “I used to get frustrated that women could wear whatever they wanted and men had to show up in the same penguin suit.”

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Adding, “The reason why women wearing pants is consid­ered okay by society’s standards is because it comes from the patriarchy. The patriarchy is male, so suits are strong, and anything feminine is weak. I was sick of that discussion, and I knew my platform allowed me to challenge it.

“I had been running from my feminine side for years because I was told that my queer­ness would be a liability in this business. And it was for decades — until it wasn’t.”

And while he’s honoured when he’s called a “fashion icon,” Porter says he isn’t ready to call himself one yet.

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“It’s hard because I feel like I’ve had an in­fluence, but I also don’t want my ego to get big. For instance, I just saw some of the latest fall men’s collections, and there are a bunch of coats that have these little trains behind them,” he explained. “Now, I could say, ‘I may have been an influence there,’ but I’d rather let other people say it. When Time magazine called me a fashion icon, I finally said, ‘Okay, maybe now I can say it myself without sounding like an a**.’”

But it’s pretty safe to say, Porter became a fashion icon with that statement-making tuxedo gown from the Oscars in 2019.

“As funny as it may sound, I’m a businessman, and wearing that [Oscars] dress was a business decision, in a sense,” he recalled. “People were like, ‘Oh, he’s just trying to get attention.’ Well, yeah, I’m in show business! It’s part of my job. Otherwise, I don’t eat.”

The April issue of InStyle is available on newsstands on March 19. Read more from the star at

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