Celebrating Black History Month: Billy Porter

Apicha Community Health Center Feb 26, 2020  

In recognizing Black History Month, Apicha CHC will be spotlighting Black LGBTQ+ pioneers in their own right and their contribution to bettering our society. 

These people are fundamental to our histories, relentless in their efforts to open doors that were firmly closed. We will not let these people be erased from history.
Billy Porter

Billy Porter is a gay Broadway performer, singer, actor, fashion trailblazer, and LGBTQ+ activist. His advocacy and activism -- often through his own work -- is one that has helped bolster LGBTQ+ visibility and acceptance.

Early life

Porter was born September 21, in 1969 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the musical theater program of Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School, and then attended Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts, where he earned his BFA in drama. This laid the groundwork for his career.

Heading to Broadway & beyond

In 1991, Porter joined the ranks in Broadway with his first role in Miss Saigon, which won three Tony Awards and became one of the longest running shows. He continued to be cast in other Broadway shows throughout the 1990s, including Grease.  Porter took a break from performing and spent some time writing and directing shows.

Porter eventually returned to Broadway in 2013 as Lola in Kinky Boots. That year, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical, and the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album for his performance.

His acting career extended beyond musical theater, with  acting roles in shows like Pose and American Horror Story. 

In a time where being Black and gay is not often portrayed on television and film, Porter's presence and acting roles have been a step toward representing more queer people of color. 

Roles in activism & supporting the LGBTQ+ community

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Porter has been vocal in pushing for gay rights, acceptance, and visibility. He has also donated to LGBTQ+ organizations such as the Ali Forney Center. Porter has been candid about his own life experiences as a gay Black man, and how toxic masculinity has affected him. "The hetero normative construct that masculinity is better silenced me for many years. It was like my masculinity was in question before I could even comprehend the thought," Porter once said in an interview with Allure

As an artist, Porter has also said there is great power in using his platform. "We are the arbiters. We're the ones that create change because it's creative in how we talk about it. We open hearts and minds in a different way," Porter said. 

Photo Source: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Kevork Djansezian/NBC/Getty Images


Ready to take action about your health?
 request an appointment

Subscribe For Updates

What's the Difference Between Nonbinary & Genderqueer?

What's the Difference Between Nonbinary & Genderqueer?

Understanding different identities can be difficult, but it's also incredibly important. And for...
Don't Miss the 2020 Census & Insurance Enrollment Deadlines!

Don't Miss the 2020 Census & Insurance Enrollment Deadlines!

The census and insurance enrollment are two important parts of your life -- and this month is the...
Early Signs of HIV

Early Signs of HIV

Early HIV is the beginning stage of HIV disease, right after HIV infection occurs.
How to Support Someone Who is Transitioning

How to Support Someone Who is Transitioning

Making the choice to transition is a big milestone. Whether it’s your partner, a friend, or anyone...
Everything You Need to Know About the 2020 Census

Everything You Need to Know About the 2020 Census

The 2020 Census is here, and is key to improving quality of life for everyone. If you haven't heard...
What to Know About the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

What to Know About the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

As vaccinations continue around New York City and the country, it's important to have all the...
What Does Pansexual Mean?

What Does Pansexual Mean?

    There are many different identities that fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella. While many folks are...
5 NYC Queer Artists to Buy Holiday Gifts From

5 NYC Queer Artists to Buy Holiday Gifts From

Artists and creatives across the board have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. And queer...
Mental Health Tips for Queer Folks Spending the Holidays Away from Family

Mental Health Tips for Queer Folks Spending the Holidays Away from Family

The holidays can be a tough time for the LGBTQ+ community. Heading home for the holidays can mean...
5 LGBTQ+ Holiday Films to Watch This Year

5 LGBTQ+ Holiday Films to Watch This Year

Photo Source: Hulu The holidays are in full swing, which means holiday films are too! And while we...