Opinion: Porter’s Emmy win simply historical

Rayshaun Stevens, Columnist

For those of you who may not have known, the 2019 Emmy Awards took place on Sept. 22, and a historic win occurred.

Billy Porter, who plays Pray Tell on ‘POSE’, is not only an actor, but he is also a Tony and Grammy Award winner, and Golden Globe nominated singer, director, composer and playwright. He has a long history of Broadway shows before stepping into fame such as “Grease” (1994), “Topdog/Underdog” (2004), “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Dreamgirls” (2004).

“POSE” is a TV show about the 1980-era struggle, culture, and stories for the LGBT community in New York, “gay balls” – based off the “Paris is Burning’ documentary in 1990. Billy Porter plays Pray Tell on the TV series, acting as the emcee and a father figure to the children of the ball.

It has been known during the 1980 to 2000-era that when a child came out to their parents or a child’s parents found out, they usually shunned their child and threw them out to fend for themselves. While playing the role, Porter expresses how much he has learned about the transgender community and “how much of a part of me they are, and I am a part of them.”

Porter won an award for best Lead Actor in a Drama Series, making him the first openly gay black male to do so. After winning, he quotes James Baldwin, an African-American playwright and activist, saying “It took many years of vomiting up the filth I was taught about myself and halfway believed before I could walk around this Earth like I had a right to be here. I have the right, you have the right. We all have the right,” not only sending a message to the African-American community, but also for the LGBT community on why we deserve to walk around Earth.

When Emmy Awards began in 1949, an African-American wasn’t nominated until 1956. “I feel proud that Billy Porter, an African-American gay man is being acknowledged for his achievements,” Clivens LaGuerre said, also being an openly queer male here at Eastern, “He’s representing the black and queer community very well! I’m so proud of him because it’s a win for all of us!”

Porter is not only paving the way for actors, but he is paving the way for the LGBT community also. It’s hard to believe there was a time where engaging in homosexual acts was illegal. After this big milestone, I believe it is only up for the LGBT community.

Rayshaun Stevens is a freshman political science and journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]