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Billy Porter was told his queerness was a ‘liability’ to his career-TGN

Billy Porter has revealed that he was once told his queerness was going to be a “liability” to him in his entertainment career.

The Broadway star, Grammy-winner, and Pose actor has, of course, since proven the naysayers wrong, but before Porter found his success, the entertainment industry “burned him real bad.”

Ahead of the release of his dance album Black Mona Lisa, Porter spoke to Associated Press about his ups and downs in the entertainment world – across music, theatre, and TV.

“I was told that it would never work out for me because my queerness would be my liability,” Billy Porter said of his early music career.

Billy Porter opens up about life post-divorce from husband Adam Smith (Getty)
Billy Porter was told his career would never take off because his queerness was a “liability”. (Getty)

“And it was – in all areas. And then it wasn’t. I’m grateful that I lived long enough to see the day where it wasn’t, where my liability has become my superpower.”

Elsewhere in the feature, Porter’s writing partner Justin Tranter, who is nominated for a Grammy for Songwriter of the Year, added: “No matter how fearless this person is, no matter how confident Billy is, this business burned him real bad decades ago, and so I did the best I could to make sure that he felt heard, to make sure that he felt understood.”

Porter’s upcoming album Black Mona Lisa acts as a “second chance” for the singer-songwriter.

The singer feels that making the album, which is “beyond anything that (he) could have dreamed”, was a “healing” experience.

Billy Porter with his hair in bantu knots, wearing a white shirt and leather jacket
Porter’s upcoming album Black Mona Lisa acts as a “second chance” for the singer-songwriter. (Getty)

“I’m trying to bring some positivity into the world. I’m trying to heal people,” he added.

One song that particularly strikes a chord with the Broadway actor is “More To Learn”, which notes how, despite all odds, he is still standing.

“I’m alive, what an accomplishment for my kind,” one lyric reads.

Explaining the lyric, Porter said: “I’m 54 years old. I came out during the AIDS crisis. I am HIV positive. On paper. I’m not supposed to be here.”

Elsewhere in the album, Porter touches on his history of activism and his hopes to pass that on to the next generation.

Porter has been a thundering voice across various movements, from his opposition to Ron DeSantis’ Dont’ Say Gay bill to his vigorous defence of trans identities.

Explaining what has driven this need to use his platform for good over the years, Porter said: “I grew up in the church, and while I left the church for reasons beyond my control, there were wonderful and astonishing, beautiful things that I learned.

“One of those things is you help people. I’m also first generation post-Civil Rights Movement so activism is in my DNA. I’ve never known anything different as a Black man and a Black queer man on this planet.”

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