The best times Billy Porter slayed genderfluid realness on the red carpet
The LGBTQ+ community’s media representation has historically been limited to white, cisgendered characters, or, more annoyingly, heteroflexible women “experimenting” to give whatever show a palatable, slightly controversial texture. Take, for example, Will Truman of Will & Grace, or Samantha Jones of Sex & The City. While these iconic television characters marked a shift towards LGBTQ+ acceptance, Black and Brown queer people—especially Black transgender folks—remained largely invisible.
Enter Billy Porter, a genderfluid demigod with seasoned experience on Broadway as Kinky Boots star Lola. Billy stars in FX’s groundbreaking TV show Pose as Pray Tell, an incredibly dynamic community leader who proffers guidance for queer youth navigating the queer ’80s ballroom scene. His presence, both on the screen and on the red carpet, has been monumental for us all. Billy’s magnanimous acting chops and unapologetic embrace of genderfluidity through fashion, give Queer and/or closeted youth endless possibilities of who they could be.
Switching seamlessly between feminine couture and masculine tailoring, Billy blurs the imaginary line of gender. Tuxedo jacket with a princess waist and ballgown skirt? Bet. Arriving to the Met Gala laying on a palanquin carried by six escorts? Your fave could neverrrr. Each look sparks so much joy and freedom that we’re left to wonder why we ever limited ourselves to one gendered department of any store.
Like a true icon, Billy knows that his every move can be used to spread awareness for the creatives in his community. Besides the immaculate execution of each outfit, Billy and his team, led by creative director Sam Ratelle, often collaborate with socially conscious brands and LGBTQ+ designers to create his look.
We sifted through the abundance of fierce outfits to bring you 12 of Billy’s most iconic red carpet looks. *in our best Pray Tell voice* And the category is…
1Little Black Dress
Billy wore a stunning Michael Kors dress to the GLSEN Respect Awards in October 2018, showing the world how versatile the LBD really is. He paired the dress with patterned pants (designer unknown) and a bright yellow hat by Christopher Jay Heller.
2Modern Greek Goddess Realness
Whether it’s an award show or a charity gala, Billy doesn’t skimp on the glam. Rinat Brodach created this modern draped creation that Billy wore to a gala for Rosie’s Theater Kids, an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children through theater.
For an appearance at the Paley Fest, Billy collaborated with The Phluid Project, a store that curates clothing brands for and by the LGBTQ+ community. The look featured a chic coral caftan by Travis Oestreich, striped jacket by Palomo Spain, and burgundy silk paneled pants by Vasilis Loizides—all are independent LGBTQ+ designers curated by The Phluid Project.
We’re SCREAMING at this honey golden moment featuring a Calvin Klein dress and Dolce & Gabbana jacket for the American Film Institute Awards. This is the best appearance of yellow on an icon since Beyonce in “Hold Up.”
5Bow down, bitches
Billy’s divine silk menswear-inspired jumpsuit with a contrasting femme bow was fashioned by frequent collaborator Rinat Brodach for the Critics’ Choice Awards.
Keeping Pantone’s Color of the Year on lock, Billy paired a sheer coral organza jacket with a silver draped knit top and black pants for Out Magazine’s Out 100 Party. Rinat Brodach slayed this ultra-cool outfit, once again.
7GrandHubby of Disco
Billy attended Michael Kors’ runway presentation in a bespoke metallic brocade suit. The look is finished with an avant-garde oversized hat and sunglasses, and many poses were slayed against that silver foil backdrop.
For the premiere of To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway, Billy donned an oversized jacket with intricate embroidery, velvet lapels, and matching palazzo pants by Xllullan.
For the Peabody Awards earlier this month, Billy chose to wear an upcycled gown from eco-conscious Mexican-American LGBTQ+ label Celestino Couture. According to Vogue, Celestino Couture also donates a portion of their proceeds toward organizations that are fighting against human trafficking.
10On any given day, we wear pink
Couturier Randi Rahm was *claps* not *clap* playing with us when he concocted this look! *clap clap clap* Billy’s two-piece suit paired with a cape lined with hot pink satin and crusted with appliqued flowers for the Golden Globes is still everything.
Who could possibly forget the tuxedo/princess dress hybrid that broke the internet? Billy’s Oscars 2019 Christian Siriano dress paired with a tuxedo jacket is an iconic moment we’ll all be telling our grandchildren about.
12We are above simply walking the Red Carpet, hunny.
We imagine that when Billy and his team dreamt up entering the Met Gala on a velvet and gold palanquin carried by literal escorts, they were thinking, “Let’s make sure literally no one can walk the red carpet after us. The intricate, hand-beaded, larger-than-life golden creation is made by The Blonds, a fashion house led by two LGBTQ+ icons Phillipe and David Blond.