Billy Porter Calls Out Anna Wintour Over Harry Styles’ Vogue Cover

Billy Porter is sharing his true thoughts surrounding a conversation he said he had with Anna Wintour months before Harry Styles landed the cover of Vogue in 2020.

By Kisha Forde Aug 14, 2023 2:01 PMTags

Billy Porter isn't mincing his words.

More than two years after Harry Styles became the first man to appear solo on the cover of Vogue, the Pose star is reflecting on the publication's choice, noting that he felt the "As It Was" singer—who was photographed in a full-length gown—landed the cover because he's "white and straight."

"It doesn't feel good to me," Porter told The Telegraph in an interview published Aug. 14. "You're using my community—or your people are using my community—to elevate you. You haven't had to sacrifice anything."

The Kinky Boots star—known for his gender-fluid fashion statements—went on to reveal that he had a conversation with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour months prior to the cover's unveiling.

"That bitch said to me at the end, ‘How can we do better?'" he continued. "And I was so taken off guard that I didn't say what I should have said."

As the 53-year-old explained, he felt that he should've urged Wintour and her staff to "use your power as Vogue to uplift the voices of the leaders of this de-gendering of fashion movement."

Billy Porter's Best Looks

"Six months later," Porter noted, "Harry Styles is the first man on the cover."

However, the Emmy winner emphasized that he doesn't place blame with the One Direction alum for landing the cover.

"It's not Harry Styles' fault that he happens to be white and cute and straight and fit into the infrastructure that way," he said. "I call out the gatekeepers."

In response to Porter's comments, a spokesperson for the magazine told E! News, "We of course regret that Billy feels as he does, and Vogue completely recognizes the tremendous amount of work he has done driving the conversation forward around genderless fashion."

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This isn't the first time that Porter has spoken out about his thoughts on Vogue's decision, with the actor previously saying he felt it was as an example of erasure when it comes to people of color.

"I feel like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to," he told The Sunday Times in October 2021. "I'm not necessarily convinced and here is why: I created the conversation [about non-binary fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time."

Noting that the 29-year-old himself wasn't the issue, Porter added, "I'm not dragging Harry Styles, 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. This is politics for me. This is my life."

The following month, the Tony winner clarified his stance, explaining that his perspective is "not about" Styles.
"The conversation is actually deeper than that," he said during a November 2021 episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. "It is about the systems of oppression and erasure of people of color who contribute to the culture. Now, that's a lot to unpack. I'm willing to unpack it, sans the dragging and cancel culture of the Internet, because I do not now, nor will ever, adjudicate my life or humanity in sound bites on social media."

He concluded, "I'm sorry, Harry. I didn't mean no harm. I'm a gay man. We like Harry, he's cute!"

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