UPDATE 10/19/21: Billy Porter's comments have since incurred some pushback from other gender-fluid fashion icons who believe he overstated his impact. One of them was Andre J., who tweeted that he was the "First Man to appear on Vogue Paris circa 2007," alongside a photo of the cover.
"I set the tone for today's fashion/gender fluidity on HIGH FASHION MAGAZINE COVERS. A Black Man did it before Harry Styles. Billy should do more research also," he wrote, later posting a follow-up tweet that featured the Google dictionary definition of "erasure."
"The only reason I responded 2 Billy Porter story is ERASURE IS REAL. I RISKED my life everyday to express myself in wigs,heels,dresses with a beard," J. said. "It was shocking to see in daylight in NYC early 2000 I was ahead of the time. Unlike today I had to earn Freedom of Expression."
I Am The First Man to appear on Vogue Paris circa 2007. I set the tone for today’s fashion/gender fluidity on HIGH FASHION MAGAZINE COVERS. A Black Man did it before Harry Styles. Billy should do more research also pic.twitter.com/LoZrZ54eD7— Andre J The Urban Mystic (@AndreJWorldWide) October 19, 2021
The only reason I responded 2 Billy Porter story is ERASURE IS REAL. I RISKED my life everyday to express myself in wigs,heels,dresses with a beard. It was shocking to see in daylight in NYC early 2000 I was ahead of the time. Unlike today I had to earn Freedom of Expression pic.twitter.com/rQo5p6AQ6U— Andre J The Urban Mystic (@AndreJWorldWide) October 19, 2021
Elsewhere, Alex Newell also took issue with Porter's claim, writing that "fashion is expression" and "risk," while appearing to allude to the fact that it's also influenced by those who came before us.
"Without Sylvester I wouldn't have had the wherewithal… without Unique I wouldn't have had to courage," he said. "we can't claim what was already there…"
This is nothing but respect… fashion is expression… is risk.. is influenced by…. Without Sylvester I wouldn’t have had the wherewithal… without Unique I wouldn’t have had to courage… we can’t claim what was already there… pic.twitter.com/g8IZ9PA6sK— Alex Newell (@thealexnewell) October 19, 2021
Read the original article below.
Last year, the "Watermelon Sugar" singer became the first solo man to cover the legendary fashion mag in a headline-making dress that seemingly referenced his love of traditionally "feminine" looks. And while the cover was meant to celebrate a time of marked evolution in men's fashion, it also ended up raising some important questions about why Vogue didn't spotlight an actual member of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly one of the gay Black men who pioneered this movement.
Now, Porter — one of those gender-fluid fashion pioneers — is weighing in on the publication's decision to let a straight white man make this particular statement, especially when he was "the first one doing it."
"I changed the whole game," he told the Sunday Times in a new interview. "I. Personally. Changed. The. Whole. Game. And that is not ego, that is just fact. I was the first one doing it and now everybody is doing it."
After all, the Pose star and his arsenal of gorgeous dresses have become red carpet staples, always landing him on Best Dressed lists. However, it wasn't always this way as Porter describes in his forthcoming autobiography Unprotected: A Memoir, which chronicles his delayed professional success as an actor.
With this in mind, Porter explained that Styles' cover was a disappointment, given that he's been forced to "fight [his] entire life to get to the place where I could wear a dress to the Oscars," whereas "all [Styles] has to do is be white and straight."
"I created the conversation [about non-binary fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time," he went on to reiterate, adding that he feels "like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to."
"I'm not dragging Harry Styles, but... He doesn't care, he's just doing it because it's the thing to do," Porter said. "This is politics for me. This is my life."
Vogue has yet to respond to Porter's criticism.
Photos via Getty / Amy Sussman & Dia Dipasupil
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