Billy Porter apologizes to Harry Styles for criticizing his gender-neutral Vogue cover


Billy Porter caused a stir when he criticized Harry Styles after the singer made history as the first solo male cover star of US Vogue. 

The TV star had slammed Vogue’s decision to use a straight, white male in their first gender-neutral cover shoot and indicated that Harry was only wearing a dress because it was ‘the thing to do.’

But during an appearance on Late Night With Stephen Colbert on Thursday, the 52-year-old actor said sorry to the crooner. 

Controversy: Billy Porter caused a stir last month when he criticized Harry Styles after the singer made history as the first solo male cover star of US Vogue

Controversy: Billy Porter caused a stir last month when he criticized Harry Styles after the singer made history as the first solo male cover star of US Vogue

Iconic: Styles, 27, made history in November as the first solo male cover star of US Vogue in its 127 years, in a shoot which saw him wear a dress and feminine garments

Iconic: Styles, 27, made history in November as the first solo male cover star of US Vogue in its 127 years, in a shoot which saw him wear a dress and feminine garments

‘The first thing I wanna say is, Harry Styles, I apologize to you for having your name in my mouth. It’s not about you. The conversation is not about you,’ said Billy. 

Stephen explained, ‘For the people who don’t know, Harry Styles was the first man to appear on the cover of Vogue —’   

‘In a dress,’ Billy finished.

The Emmy Award winner went on to say, ‘And so the conversation is actually deeper than that. It is about the systems of oppression and erasure of people of color who contribute to the culture.’

Apologizing: The Pose star said, 'The first thing I wanna say is, Harry Styles, I apologize to you for having your name in my mouth. It's not about you. The conversation is not about you'

Apologizing: The Pose star said, ‘The first thing I wanna say is, Harry Styles, I apologize to you for having your name in my mouth. It’s not about you. The conversation is not about you’

Making history: Harry often wears women's clothing but does not comment on it much; seen here in 2020

Making history: Harry often wears women’s clothing but does not comment on it much; seen here in 2020

‘Now that’s a lot to unpack. I’m willing to unpack it sans the dragging and cancel culture of the internet because I do not now nor will not ever adjudicate my life or humanity in sound bites on social media. 

‘So when you are ready to have the real conversation, call a b*tch.’

Billy then began fanning himself with the Pride fan that he brought for his appearance and said, ‘I’m ready to have it and I’m sorry, Harry. I didn’t mean no harm.’

 ‘I’m a gay man, We like Harry, he’s cute,’ he added.

Deeper: Billy explained, 'And so the conversation is actually deeper than that. It is about the systems of oppression and erasure of people of color who contribute to the culture'

Deeper: Billy explained, ‘And so the conversation is actually deeper than that. It is about the systems of oppression and erasure of people of color who contribute to the culture’

Backlash: Billy's comments were met with significant backlash on social media, with some users accusing him of 'gatekeeping non-binary fashion' and bisexual Walking Dead star Daniel Newman tweeting that his remarks were 'GROSS & sad'

Backlash: Billy’s comments were met with significant backlash on social media, with some users accusing him of ‘gatekeeping non-binary fashion’ and bisexual Walking Dead star Daniel Newman tweeting that his remarks were ‘GROSS & sad’

The Pose star also said: ‘Apparently, I’m famous now and it was a slow news day.’

Billy’s comments were met with significant backlash on social media with some users accusing him of ‘gatekeeping non-binary fashion’ and bisexual Walking Dead star Daniel Newman tweeting that his remarks were ‘GROSS & sad.’ 

When Stephen asked Billy if he was surprised that the comment ‘blew up the way it did,’ the Tony Award winner said, ‘I am surprised because there are so many things that are important on this earth to be talking about. It’s just weird.’      

In November 2020, Harry, 27, made history as the first solo male cover star of US Vogue in its 127 years, in a shoot which saw him wear a Gucci dress and feminine garments.  

Last month, Billy told The Sunday Times that he took issue with the publication’s choice of cover star.

Hitting out: Last month, Billy hit out at Vogue for featuring a straight white male in their first gender neutral fashion shoot (pictured in a Christian Siriano tuxedo dress at the 2019 Oscars)

Hitting out: Last month, Billy hit out at Vogue for featuring a straight white male in their first gender neutral fashion shoot (pictured in a Christian Siriano tuxedo dress at the 2019 Oscars)

Billy – who often wears dresses at red carpet events – explained: ‘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.

‘I’m not dragging Harry Styles, 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, was the first gay black man to win a lead acting Emmy for his portrayal of Pray Tell in Pose, about the drag ball culture of Eighties New York, went on to insist that he ‘personally changed the game’ for a wave of men embracing skirts and dresses as part of their style.

The singer and actor famously wore a custom-made Christian Siriano tuxedo dress to the 2019 Oscars and donned a winged Cleopatra gold bodysuit to the Met Gala the same year. 

Meanwhile, Harry’s Vogue headlines sparked a debate when it was released, with right-wing commentator Candace Owens hitting headlines by blasting the styling and the ‘steady feminization of our men’, calling for society to ‘bring back manly men’.  

Embracing change: Billy went on to insist that he 'personally changed the game' for a wave of men embracing skirts and dresses as part of their style (pictured at 2020 Oscars)

Embracing change: Billy went on to insist that he ‘personally changed the game’ for a wave of men embracing skirts and dresses as part of their style (pictured at 2020 Oscars)

Meanwhile, Billy recently said he was ‘completely free’ of shame after speaking out about his HIV diagnosis in May in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

He told the Times: ‘I was sent to a psychologist when I was five years old because I was a sissy.

‘The shame started then. On May 19, 2021, I released every ounce of shame from my body and it will never come back. 

‘I have no shame now. None. About anything. It took me 14 years to give that interview, so by the time I did it, I wasn’t scared any more.’

The star, who was voted Man of the Year at the Attitude Awards earlier this month, expanded on his feelings to the magazine.  

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