Billy Porter is a veritable red carpet icon. Whether he's in a remote-controlled fringe hat or a white tuxedo with a feather skirt, his looks leave people talking. And while he usually receives a ton of praise for his red carpet repertoire, sometimes Porter is targeted because he refuses to subscribe to archaic notions of gendered dressing. Recently, he's faced a wave of backlash for wearing a dress on Sesame Street. But true to form, Porter had the best response to his naysayers.
On Jan. 30, the children’s show teased photos on Twitter, showing Porter sitting on the set of Sesame Street Season 51. For his iconic photo op, Porter repeated his unforgettable Christian Siriano tuxedo dress from the 2019 Oscars. Almost immediately after the post, critics created a petition to pull the unaired episode completely.
According to Page Six, naysayers claimed the show “sexualizes children using drag queens.” But Billy Porter put a stop to the outrage, stating simply: “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.”
Porter pointed out that such criticism is rooted in homophobia. “Like, what about me singing with a penguin [on the show] has anything to do with what I’m doing in my bedroom?” he asked. “The really interesting thing for me is that that’s what it’s all about when it comes to LGBTQ people — the first thing everyone wants to talk about is how we having sex. Stay out of my bedroom and you will be fine — that is none of your business.”
When Porter first wore the gown — which will be stowed in Kensington Palace in a year — he made it clear that he wanted to break gender barriers. "My goal is to be a walking piece of political art every time I show up," he told Vogue at the time. "To challenge expectations. What is masculinity? What does that mean? Women show up every day in pants, but the minute a man wears a dress, the seas part."
In other words, Porter said what he said the first time. And as his glorious debut on Sesame Street proves, he's sticking to it.