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Billy Porter criticises Vogue for Harry Styles gender-neutral cover shoot

"I’m not dragging Harry Styles, but he is the one you’re going to try and use to represent this new conversation?"

By Hollie Geraghty

Billy Porter in the press image for 'Children'
Billy Porter's new single 'Children' is out now. (Photo: Press).

Billy Porter has criticised US Vogue’s decision to feature Harry Styles in a gender-neutral cover shoot last year.

In the historic cover feature published in the December 2020 issue, the former One Direction star wore a Gucci dress and skirt and told the magazine that he finds women’s clothes “amazing”.

But in a new interview with The Times, American singer and actor Porter has expressed his objection to the magazine’s decision to feature Styles.

Porter told The Times: “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.”

Porter often wears dresses at red carpet events, including a tuxedo style ball gown at the 2019 Academy Awards which was praised for bending fashion gender conventions.

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. 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 now. All he has to do is be white and straight.”

The ‘Pose’ star also suggested he “personally changed the game” for men who now choose to integrate traditionally female clothing into their fashion palette. 

Porter has also previously been praised for his openness about living with HIV for the past 14 years, telling The Hollywood Reporter in May this year: “There’s no more stigma – let’s be done with that. It’s time.”

The broadway star recently released new song ‘Children, his debut track with Island UK and Republic Records US, co-written with Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall and British producer MNEK.

Porter said in a press release that the feel-good anthem was inspired by “everything [he’s] gone through to get here.”

The disco-dance ballad is the first track from his forthcoming fifth album. “I lived a whole lotta life / I ain’t new to this / Lotta lows, lotta highs, I stay true to this / Take my hand, join the ride / You’re gonna have it figured out in time,” he sings in one verse.

He also said that for the first time his music is “what I want it to be”, which is “hope [and] love”.