In true Billy Porter fashion, the multi-hyphenate superstar didn’t hold back while delivering a politically-charged speech Thursday night at the opening of this year’s Outfest.
“Fuck SCOTUS!” he said while accepting the Outfest Achievement Award.
His words were met with applause and cheers from the crowd gathered at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.
He condemned Republicans who testified against Donald Trump and his close aides during the Jan. 6 hearings. “None of you Republicans who are coming forward in these hearings right now are heroes,” Porter said. “You are not heroes.”
He blasted them for standing by Trump until the Capitol riot: “Fuck y’all, too!”
The “Pose” star said left-leaning voters got too comfortable before Trump was elected. “Our messaging has to change,” he said. “We thought we won something – the Democrats, the progressives – we got civil rights, we got Roe v. Wade, we got marriage equality, all the rest. We got a Black president and then we all sat on our asses and ate Bon Bons for eight years and then the unthinkable happened.”
Porter said, “We lost our vigilance. It’s time for us to take that shit back.”
He continued, “Our 24-hour news cycle has forgotten to illuminate that the reason the pushback is so severe in this moment is because the change has already happened. We’re already here. Look at me!”
Porter’s directorial debut “Anything’s Possible,” a coming-of-age rom-com about a Black trans girl in high school falling in love for the first time, opened the festival.
“The change is already happening and we ain’t going back,” Porter said, adding, “We are at war to save the soul of humanity. Thoughts and prayers don’t mean shit. They don’t. Hate is an action. Love is an action. Peace is an action. So we have to choose love. We have to choose hope. We have to choose joy.”
Thursday marked Porter’s return to Outfest after first attending the festival 22 years ago for the premiere of the Greg Berlanti-directed LGBTQ dramedy “The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy.”
For years afterwards, Porter struggled to get work in Hollywood because he was “too flamboyant,” he said. “There was no internet. There was a social media telling me that I have my own voice,” Porter said. “As a matter of fact, the messaging I received from the world was exactly the opposite: ‘Shut up, you Black faggot. Nobody wants to hear from you. Nobody cares.’”
He was diagnosed with diabetes and HIV in 2007. “What I had feared the most I had become,” Porter recalled. “I had become the exact statistic the entire racist and homophobic world said I would be.”
His career began to take off when he earned a Tony in 2013 for his work in “Kinky Boots.”
On the red carpet before he delivered his speech, Porter told Variety, “I was told from the beginning of my career, from allies and haters alike, that my queerness would be my liability. And it was for decades — until it wasn’t. And now it’s my superpower. I’m redeemed.”
Porter was presented with Achievement Award by “Anything’s Possible” stars Eva Reign and Abubakr Ali.
Outfest runs through July 24.
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