Fashion

Billy Porter sees you hating on his Sesame Street outfit, and he’s not here for it

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
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Billy Porter sees you hating on his Sesame Street outfit, and he’s not here for it

Some people thought the Pose star’s outfit was “inappropriate”.

Let’s face facts: Billy Porter is a fashion icon. Whether he’s gracing the Golden Globes in a swan tuxedo, donning a motorised hat for the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, or turning up to the Tony Awards in a tulle gown featuring embroidered uteruses, he and stylist Sam Ratelle never fail to make a statement.

So, when the Pose star made his Sesame Street debut, you know he did it in style.

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Fans of Porter will know all too well that he stole the show at last year’s Oscars with his custom-made Christian Siriano tuxedo gown. And, embracing the spirit of sustainability, he decided to re-wear his iconic gown for his appearance on the legendary children’s show.

“Billy Porter’s bringing those fierce vibes to Sesame Street for Season 51,” read a caption on the show’s official Instagram, alongside a photo of the star posing on the steps of 123 Sesame Street’s iconic brownstone building.

The photo has garnered some 30,000 likes in just the few days since it was posted. Unfortunately, though, it also resulted in a staggering number of trolls crawling out from underneath their bridges to complain about the image.

The source of their umbrage? Apparently, Porter’s outfit is “not appropriate” for the children watching the show at home. Some feel his long-sleeved formal gown is “confusing and dangerous”. That his appearance on the show will “lead [our kids] to destruction”.

That Porter looks like (and we can’t believe, in 2020, that we’re having to write this) “perverted demon sex”.

It’s awful, it’s homophobic, and it’s indicative of a wider societal problem. And the bigoted commentary has not escaped Porter’s attention. 

Responding to his critics via a statement in Page Six Style, he said: “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. But what about me singing with a penguin [on the show] has anything to do with what I’m doing in my bedroom?”

Porter continued: “The really interesting thing for me is that that’s what it’s all about when it comes to LGBTQ people – the first thing everyone wants to talk about is how we having sex.

“Stay out of my bedroom and you will be fine – that is none of your business.”

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It’s worth noting that, while some are slating Porter’s Sesame Street appearance, others are praising the show’s decision to champion inclusion and diversity.

“Proud to watch Sesame Street!” wrote one fan. “Proud of those who understand Sesame Street is about acceptance and inclusion! Diversity matters!”

Another added: “I feel sad for all the kids who will miss out on this because parents don’t want to have a conversation with their kids. My kids grew up around all sorts of people and guess what? They turned out exactly the way they were supposed to. They have love in their hearts and treat everyone as they are treated. Hate isn’t born into kids it’s taught and usually by frightened parents.”

And still one more said: “Yes!!! Sesame Street is a place that is meant to be inclusive. It is here to teach our children to love, respect and be kind to everyone, no matter who they are or how they choose to dress. Everyone is welcome here.

“Some of you parents need to watch a few more episodes because it appears you don’t get what that means. If they can teach our children to welcome someone who lives in a garbage can, then why not a guy in a dress?”

Exactly.

Billy Porter on the Grammys 2020 red carpet
Billy Porter dazzles on the Grammys red carpet.

We hope that other TV shows take note of Sesame Street’s ethos going forward. Because, to quote Porter’s own words (from his Allure cover story), “it’s time” to change the narrative.

“I’m a part of the first generation of gay men, ever, who gets to be out loud and proud in the world,” he said. “My generation is the first. Bitches are scared. And they should be.”

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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