Billy Porter has opened up about coming out as gay in the 1980s, explaining that it was a time when he needed to escape the “trauma” and “toxic energy” of his childhood.
In a recent interview with the Gay Times, the actor revealed that he officially came out in 1985 following a tumultuous upbringing.
“It was violently homophobic and I knew then that if I was going to survive, I was going to have to extract myself from that,” he told the publication about his childhood.
“I found the arts and I found the theatre, a community that embraced me for who I am, and as I went deeper and deeper into that community, I discovered we were in the middle of a plague and had to fight.”
Over the years, Porter has been vocal about the importance of LGBTQ+ rights.
In an eight-minute speech aired on television network Logo, Porter discussed the discrimination and violence LGBTQ+ people continue to face across the US and referenced the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in June 2019.
Looking back at his teenage years, Porter told the Gay Times he would tell his 16-year-old self to “extract” himself from danger.
“Extract yourself from the people who don’t know how to love you,” he said.
“Extract yourself from anything that’s toxic. Change the narrative of, ‘I need the love of people, my mother, my father, my family to exist on the planet’. No! We don’t need acceptance, we don’t need tolerance, we need respect for our humanity.
“We demand respect for our humanity and we will give respect for everyone else so that we can all move forward.”
Porter continued, adding that “everybody’s humanity is valid, even if we don’t understand it or like it.
The Broadway performer told those who may be suffering from a similar toxic environment: “You must break free. It’s the only way you will survive.”
This isn’t the first time the 49-year-old has shared his childhood trauma.
In an essay for Out magazine last year, Porter alleged that he was sexually abused by his stepfather for several years.
“Seven-year-old boys do not have affairs with 50-year-old men,” he wrote in the article. “It’s called sexual abuse. Plain and simple.”
Porter has been a regular on the Hollywood red carpet in recent weeks sporting an array of artistic ensembles.
In February, the Pose star wore a black voluminous gown designed by Christian Siriano for the 91st Academy Awards which included a tailored tuxedo jacket worn over a full-skirt strapless velvet gown.
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