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Billy Porter criticises Vogue for putting Harry Styles on cover in a dress

"He doesn’t care, he’s just doing it because it’s the thing to do."

By Jamie Tabberer

Words: Jamie Tabberer; pictures: Attitude/Columbia

Billy Porter has criticised Vogue magazine for putting Harry Styles on its cover in a dress last year.

Former One Direction star Harry became the first man to land a solo cover on the fashion bible last November, in a moment widely praised for amplifying gender-fluid fashion.

However, Pose star Billy has taken issue with the decision, explaining he’s had to “fight my entire life to get to the place where I could wear a dress to the Oscars.”

“I created the conversation”

“I’m not dragging Harry Styles,” said Billy in a recent interview with The Times. “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.”

Billy – who won the Man of the Year award at this month’s Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar – continued of ‘Watermelon Sugar’ singer Harry’s cover: “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 [down]. All he has to do is be white and straight.”

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The 52-year-old added: “I changed the whole game. I. Personally. Changed. The. Whole. Game. And that is not ego, that is just fact. I was the first one doing it and now everybody is doing it.

“I feel like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to. I’m not necessarily convinced and here is why. I created the conversation [about gender-fluid fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time.”

Billy Porter appears on the cover of the Attitude Awards issue, out now to download and to order globally (Photography: Taylor Miller)

Speculation has raged about Harry’s sexuality for years, but the star has never publicly clarified the matter. However, he told The Guardian in 2019: “Am I sprinkling in nuggets of sexual ambiguity to try and be more interesting? No.”

He also said: “It’s not like I’m sitting on an answer, and protecting it, and holding it back. It’s not a case of: I’m not telling you cos I don’t want to tell you. It’s not: ooh this is mine and it’s not yours. […] It’s: who cares? Does that make sense? It’s just: who cares?”

The Attitude Awards issue is out now.

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