'Activism is in my DNA': Billy Porter makes history on the cover of Essence

Billy Porter
Billy Porter
Photo: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images
  • Billy Porter is the first black openly gay man to feature on the cover of Essence magazine.
  • The July/August 2020 cover follows his feature as the first male-identified cover star of Allure magazine.
  • In his interview he speaks about standing up for himself and the Black Lives Matter movement in the US. 


Billy Porter has made history as the first black openly gay man to appear on the cover of Essence.

According to Out, this is after he featured as the first male-identified cover star of Allure magazine in January. The Pose star, interviewed by Tre' vell Anderson, spoke about everything from finding his true self to the Black Lives Matter movement. "Activism is in my DNA," he says during his interview.

About the wave of change sweeping the US amid the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, he speaks of having open conversations about slavery: "We're like a dysfunctional family who keeps secrets and doesn't want to talk about it.

"They don't want to talk about the actual thing. They want to act like the actual thing never happened, so that there's never a healing that can take place. White people are so afraid that we want vengeance that they can't acknowledge the truth.

"But we don't want vengeance," he says. "We want our rights. We want equality. We want to be treated like human beings. We want to know that we can walk out of our houses and not be under threat of death every single day simply because of the colour of our skin."

He also speaks about standing up for all Black lives, including black trans lives, saying far too often "the filth was coming from my own" quoting Black gay writer James Baldwin.

"'It took years of me vomiting up the filth that I was told about myself, and halfway believed, before I could walk around on this earth like I deserve to be here,'" he recites. "But the filth was not only coming from white people. The filth was coming from my own."

READ HIS FULL INTERVIEW WITH ESSENCE HERE.