Billy Porter faces backlash after claiming he invented ‘non-binary fashion’

Billy Porter bashed Vogue for picking Harry Styles for its cover. (Getty Images/Vogue/Condé Nast) Billy Porter has fielded criticism for claiming that he “created the conversation” about gender-neutral fashion. Porter, the 52-year-old begowned champion of red carpet style, has been at loggerheads with Harry Styles after the Cinderella star slammed […]

Billy Porter bashed Vogue for picking Harry Styles for its cover. (Getty Images/Vogue/Condé Nast)

Billy Porter has fielded criticism for claiming that he “created the conversation” about gender-neutral fashion.

Porter, the 52-year-old begowned champion of red carpet style, has been at loggerheads with Harry Styles after the Cinderella star slammed American Vogue for featuring Styles wearing a dress on its December 2019 cover.

The opportunities that have been handed to Styles, a 27-year-old white man, have been much harder for Porter, an older Black man, to achieve, he told The Sunday Times.

“I created the conversation [about gender-neutral fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time,” he told the British newspaper.

Billy Porter blasted for being a cis man claiming he created ‘non-binary fashion’

While Porter did not specially use the phrase “non-binary fashion” in the interview, his comments drew raised eyebrows from LGBT+ Twitter users, with some accusing him of “gatekeeping non-binary fashion“.

“He didn’t invent that concept,” fumed one user. “He wasn’t the first one to do it. This just seems like bitter jealousy that he hasn’t gotten a Vogue cover yet.”

“While I understand Billy’s sentiment, I’m looking at two cis individuals once again put ‘non-binary’ in a box as if it is a third gender and not a literal identity,” another added. “What exactly is non-binary fashion?”

Others, including bisexual Walking Dead star Daniel Newman, criticised Porter.

The Pose star, who donned a custom Christian Siriano tuxedo gown for the 2019 Oscars, insisted that he “changed the whole game” when it came to men wearing skirts and dresses as part of their personal style.

But he called out anti-Blackness in the entertainment and fashion industries which has long seen queer Black people erased – Porter included, he said.

“I was the first one doing it,” Porter said, “and now everybody is doing it.”

For Porter, that includes Styles, who graced Vogue as the first solo male cover star in its 127-year history wearing a Gucci lace dress.

“I’m not dragging Harry Styles,” he stressed, “but he is the one you’re going to try and use to represent this new conversation?

“He doesn’t care, he’s just doing it because it’s the thing to do.

“This is politics for me. This is my life. I had to fight my entire life to get to the place where I could wear a dress to the Oscars and not be gunned now.

“All he has to do is be white and straight.”

Billy Porter faces backlash for claiming he invented ‘non-binary fashion’: ‘How gross and sad’

Katheleen Knopf

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