“As artists, we get to be a part of changing,” Billy Porter told the women of The View on Friday morning. “With me, the clothes have a statement; the clothes mean something, I want to open up conversations.”
Porter has certainly helped open up a few—specifically when it comes to challenging gender-specific dressing on the red carpet. Whether in a cape, a suit, a gown or some blend of all of the above, Porter does what he wants, gender norms be damned.
But as he broke it down for The View’s panel of hosts, for those averse to seeing a man in a dress, there’s an underlying issue we’re likely not discussing.
“Women wearing pants is not a problem—anymore ... because pants are strong, they’re considered powerful, they are associated with the patriarchy,” Porter said. “However, when a man wears a dress, very often, people are disgusted. So what does that say? What are we saying?”
“They hate women,” answered Joy Behar.
“Thank you! I’m done doing that; I’m done with that,” exclaimed Porter, who went on to explain that his experience wearing drag in Kinky Boots was one of the most grounding experiences of his life.
“I’m not going back,” he later added.
And Porter’s right; even in an increasingly progressive world (well, to an extent), men who adopt traditionally “feminine” mannerisms or clothing are often considered weak, perverse or inferior—which speaks volumes about how we feel about women. But as Porter points out, it’s also really no one’s damned business.
“I’m a man who wants to wear a dress, and when I want to wear one, I’m gonna,” he said. “And I’ll look gorgeous in it!”