Billy Porter Calls Out ‘Double Standard’ in Casting Gay Characters

JoJo Whilden/FX

It’s Emmy campaign season, and as the stars attend For Your Consideration panels and screenings, they’re also opening up about some serious issues in Hollywood.

Actor Billy Porter, who stars in FX’s Pose as well as the most recent season of American Horror Story, brought up an important topic in a roundtable discussion with fellow actors Richard Madden (Bodyguard), Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal), Sam Rockwell (Fosse/Verdon), Stephan James (Homecoming) and Diego Luna (Narcos: Mexico) for The Hollywood Reporter.

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Porter — who portrays Pray Tell, the emcee of the ball scene in Poselamented the casting double standard that he faces when going after roles. “It’s a double layer — the layer of actually being a person of color in this industry and then the other layer of being a queen — nobody can see you as anything else.”

The actor, who has had a successful theater career, continued to open up about his difficulty finding roles in Hollywood. “If flamboyantly… wasn’t in the description of the character, no one would see me ever for anything, which wouldn’t be so enraging,” he continued, “if it went the other direction, but it doesn’t.”

Pose Season 2 (Credit: Macall Polay/FX)

What Porter goes on to explain is that straight actors are often praised for their portrayal of playing gay characters while he himself is overlooked when a role isn’t gay. “Because straight men playing gay — everybody wants to give them an award. ‘Thank you for gracing us with your straight presence.’ So, that gets tiresome.”

“So here I sit, I can’t get the gay parts, I can’t get the straight parts, I can’t get nothing,” he shared candidly with his fellow actors. But just when the actor was about to give up on auditioning for pilots he got the call for Pose and everything changed.

“I literally was like, ‘Okay, Lord. Or the universe, or whatever,'” he said of the sudden opportunity. “It just was like, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

Pose, Season 2 Premiere, Tuesday, June 11, 10/9c, FX