Styles graced the cover of the magazine in October, prompting Porter–known for also bending fashion gender lines–to criticize the photo.
“I feel like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to,” Porter told The Sunday Times in October. “I’m not necessarily convinced and here is why. I created the conversation [about genderfluid fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time.”
The remarks invited further criticism of both Porter and Styles at the time.
Now Porter has clarified his sentiments. In an interview with Stephen Colbert, the Pose star explained his feelings, and offered an apology to Styles.
“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,” he said. “The conversation is actually deeper than that. It’s about the systems of oppression and erasure of people of color who contribute to the culture.”
“I’m sorry, Harry. I didn’t mean no harm. I’m a gay man. We like Harry, he’s cute,” Porter added.
View this post on Instagram
Porter also blamed a “slow news day” for the story getting traction, and said he found the backlash to the criticism “weird.”
“Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with,” Porter explained. “What’s really exciting is that all of these lines are just kind of crumbling away. There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes. I’ve never really thought too much about what it means – it just becomes this extended part of creating something.”
In addition to becoming a Tony and Emmy award-winning star, Billy Porter has become a fashion icon for his penchant for wearing dresses to major awards shows. He’s said he wants to expand the conversations around masculine and feminine dress, and enjoys wearing dresses designed for men as a form of political protest. He has described himself as a “walking piece of political art.”