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In a new interview, actor Billy Porter has opened up about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his stepfather when he was a child and how it still impacts his life today.
The out actor and singer, who holds an Emmy, Grammy, and Tony awards, told Peoplethat his stepfather began abusing him after they spoke about the birds and the bees. Porter said his stepfather abused him a least twice a week for five years.
"As a child, I became a grown man," Porter said. "In my mind, I lived that experience as if it was an affair. Because it was loving, it was nurturing, it was confusing. 'Cause it was touch. It was what I needed; it was the illusion of care, of a big, strong man caring for me. Still, to this day, I'm not O.K." Porter has previously opened up about those experience in an op-ed for Out magazine back in 2018.
In the final season of Pose, Porter's character Pray Tell revealed an origin story that seemed inspired by Porter's own experiences.
Porter, who recently starred as the "Fab G" in Amazon Studios' Cinderella, said that his own voice "always saved me." However, while he performed in church, people said it was shameful.
"My Black queerness made everyone uncomfortable," Porter said.
Musical theater became a saving grace for Porter when he was younger. He's gone on to win a Tony Award for his performance in Kinky Boots and an Emmy Award for Pose.
"I don't think I'd be alive if I hadn't discovered it," he told People. "If I hadn't seen those things, like The Wiz and Dreamgirls, then I never would've been able to dream outside of my circumstance."
Porter said he started therapy at 25 and started back during the pandemic. "My sex life in relation to intimacy, it's not -- it's not good at all," he told the magazine. Porter married his longtime partner Adam Smith, 40, in 2017. He said that he still struggles with his past. "It's really, really hard in a marriage, you know, when you're trying to figure out how to be intimate with somebody. But we're growing together and healing together. It's a lot of hard work. Let me say, it's worth it."
Porter's new memoir Unprotected comes out on October 18. He told the magazine that his life is now about service, especially in embracing his Black queer identity. Part of that service is also his activism in HIV awareness -- he came out in May as living with HIV.
"I'm looking for legacy that lasts beyond my ego, beyond my faith, beyond my money," Porter said. "Who am I changing? How does my art affect the world and make it a better place?"