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Billy Porter Tells Straight Actors How 'Enraging' Their Gay Casting Is

Billy Porter

The Pose star discussed the limited opportunities for gay actors of color. 

Billy Porter outlined how difficult it can be to be cast as a gay actor of color at a roundtable organized by The Hollywood Reporter.

"Being black and gay and out came with a lot of unemployment," said the Pose star. "It's a double layer, the layer of being a person of color in this industry then the layer of being a queen. Nobody can see you as anything else."


Porter -- the only out actor in a conversation that included Stephan James, Diego Luna, Sam Rockwell, Richard Madden, and Hugh Grant -- went on to say how "enraging" it is when straight actors are habitually cast and honored for playing gay roles, when the opposite rarely happens.

"If 'flamboyant' wasn't in the description of the character, no one would see me, ever, for anything, which wouldn't be so enraging if it went the other direction, but it doesn't," said Porter. "Because straight men playing gay, everybody wants to give them an award: 'Thank you for gracing us with your straight presence.' That gets tiresome. So here I sit, I can't get the gay parts, I can't get the straight parts."

"The theater was a bit kinder," added Porter, who won a Tony Award in 2013 for his lead role in Kinky Boots, "but I'd go in and put myself on tape and, 'Y'all said be flamboyant,' then not a callback, not a nothin'. 'He's too flamboyant.' I was going to kill somebody."

Porter said he was ready to throw in the towel before receiving a phone call from Pose cocreator Ryan Murphy, who would eventually offer him the part of Pray Tell in the acclaimed FX series about New York City's ball scene in the 1980s.

The roundtable included several actors who had portrayed LGBTQ roles -- Grant discussed his performance as closeted politician Jeremy Thorpe in A Very English Scandal and Madden talked about his part of John Reid, who was Elton John's former manager and lover, in Rocketman.

Porter is correct in his assessment of a casting bias in Tinseltown. Notably, an out man has never won an Academy Award in the acting category, although 59 straight actors have been Oscar-nominated for portraying LGBTQ lives.

Watch The Hollywood Reporter Drama Actor Roundtable below.

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