Billy Porter has addressed the debate around straight men playing gay roles on a Hollywood roundtable with Richard Madden and Hugh Grant, among others.
Theater veteran Billy, who has been in showbiz for 30 years, has seen his profile skyrocket for his role in LGBTI-themed FX show Pose.
Meanwhile Richard recently played John Reid, Elton John’s ex-lover and manager in Rocketman. Hugh Grant, furthermore, played Jeremy Thorpe on last year’s A Very English Scandal.
Another high profile LGBTI role for Hugh was in 1987 romantic drama film Maurice.
‘Being black and gay and out came with a lot of unemployment’
Billy reflected on his experiences as a gay man in Hollywood in a roundtable discussion for the Hollywood Reporter.
‘Being black and gay and out came with a lot of unemployment,’ he explained, as Hugh and Richard looked on. ‘It’s a double layer, the layer of being a person of color in this industry then the layer of being a queen. Nobody can see you as anything else.’
‘If “flamboyant” wasn’t in the description of the character, no one would see me, ever, for anything, which wouldn’t be so enraging if it went the other direction, but it doesn’t,’ he furthermore explained.
— Q. Allan Brocka (@allanbrocka) June 5, 2019
‘”He’s too flamboyant”‘
Other actors joining Billy, Richard and Hugh on the roundtable were Stephan James, Diego Luna and Sam Rockwell.
‘Because straight men playing gay, everybody wants to give them an award,’ added Billy. ‘”Thank you for gracing us with your straight presence.” That gets tiresome.
‘So here I sit, I can’t get the gay parts, I can’t get the straight parts. The theater was a bit kinder, but I’d go in and put myself on tape and, “Y’all said be flamboyant,” then not a callback, not a nothin’. “He’s too flamboyant.”‘
One Twitter user commented: ‘The other faces at the table when he says “Thank you for gracing us with your straight presence!”‘