Billy Porter participated in the Hollywood Reporter Drama Actor Roundtable, and during the talk, he went off about the indignities gay actors must face in order to get roles.
The discussion involved Stephan James, Diego Luna, Sam Rockwell, Hugh Grant and Richard Madden (who recently played a gay role in the Elton John biopic Rocketman). It covered a wealth of topics.
When the moderator asked Porter what made him continue going for on-screen roles after being passed up for numerous roles despite his illustrious theatre career, Porter responded:
“You know, it’s a double layer: the layer of actually being a person of color in this industry and then other the layer of being a queen. Nobody can see you as anything else. If ‘flamboyantly dot dot dot’ wasn’t in the description of the character, no one would see me, ever, for anything. Which wouldn’t be so enraging if it went the other direction, but it doesn’t. Because straight men playing gay, everyone wants to give them an award. ‘Thank you for gracing us with your straight presence.’ So that gets tiresome.
So here I sit: I can’t get the gay parts, I can’t get the straight parts, I can’t get nothing. The last pilot season I went through, it was that over and over and over and over again. It was a couple years ago, and my sister calls me on the phone, and she catches me right after one of those, like, dismissive ‘You’re too flamboyant’ calls. And I just went in. I was just crying. I had to pull the car over to the side of the road. I was like, ‘I can’t. I can’t!’ Like, your body doesn’t know that it’s not real. The emotions. It’s like, I can’t keep putting myself into this position where I’m always begging.
The next day, ring! Ryan Murphy wants to see you for a show called Pose. It’s set in the LGBTQ Paris is Burning ball culture, and I literally was like, ‘Okay, Lord, or the universe or whatever.’ It was literally like, you got to be kidding me.”
Here’s a video of Porter speaking his mind at the roundtable:
“Everybody wants to give them an award.” #PoseFX star @theebillyporter on the “enraging” double standard of straight men playing gay roles in Hollywood https://t.co/xsKCt1eu6H pic.twitter.com/QT3LXxCO5w
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) June 5, 2019
He’s not wrong about the award thing. In 2019, alone Olivia Coleman won an Oscar for playing a bisexual monarch in The Favourite, Mahershala Ali won his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing gay pianist Dr. Don Shirley in Green Book and Rami Malek won Best Actor in for playing bisexual rock icon and Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Each of the actors is straight.
Marlon Brando, Kevin Spacey, Jodie Foster, Joel Grey, Anna Paquin, Angelina Jolie and Linda Hunt are the only out LGBTQ actors ever to have won Oscars for acting.