Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s ‘Evolved Man of the Week’ profiles. Each week we will highlight an individual that embodies what it means to be an evolved man, famous and non-famous men alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to the television actor, singer, and performer; Billy Porter.
Mr. Porter was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to William E. Porter and Cloerinda Jean Johnson Porter Ford. His sister is Mary Martha Ford-Dieng. After attending Reizenstein Middle School, Mr. Porter attended Taylor Allderdice High School and then the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School, where he graduated in 1987. He graduated from the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University with a B.F.A. in Drama and earned a certification from the graduate-level Professional Program In Screenwriting at UCLA.
Billy Porter admitted to being sexually abused by his stepfather while he was a child. It took him years after his stepfather’s death to realize he was a victim of abuse. Mr. Porter boldly shared his story of pain and triumph in Out Magazine in 2018.
“Fast-forward to the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school. I was performing in the shows at Kennywood Park in my hometown of Pittsburgh when the memory of the affair flooded my senses. Yeah – can you believe that shit? I called it an affair for 20-years before my therapist helped me change the language.
“Seven-year-old boys do not have affairs with 50-year-old men. It’s called sexual abuse. Plain and simple.”
Billy Porter has appeared in numerous films, Broadway productions, and television shows; including productions as Grease, Kinky Boots, Angels in America, The Humbling, Law & Order: SVU, The Get Down to name a few. He currently stars in the award-winning hit show Pose on FX. Billy Porter is also a musician with multiple recording albums, Untitled, and his sophomore album, At the Corner of Broadway + Soul – LIVE and his 2014 release, Billy’s Back on Broadway.
He’s won and been nominated for various awards for his acting including the 2013 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical, 2013 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, and the Dorian Award TV Performer of the Year in 2019. He was nominated for a 2005 GLAAD Media Award and a Global Globe Award in 2019.
In 2021, Billy Porter broke his 14 year silence around his HIV positive status.
“There’s happiness, yes; there’s surface joy, but there was also a feeling of dread, all day, every day. It wasn’t a fear that [my status] was going to come out or that somebody was going to expose me; it was just the shame that it had happened in the first place. And as a Black person, particularly a Black man on this planet, you have to be perfect or you will get killed. But look at me. Yes, I am the statistic, but I’ve transcended it. This is what HIV-positive looks like now. I’m going to die from something else before I die from that.”
Today we honor Billy Porter as our Evolved Man of the Week.