The Root, The Glow Up Vertical, February 25, 2019
The day of the 2019 Oscars, thousands of men—who I’m presuming live in their parents’ basements and holla from the passenger side of their best friend’s ride—had their already-fragile masculinity shattered when Billy Porter entered the Academy Awards resembling the black Cinderella and bibbidi-bobbidi-booed all over the red carpet.
Porter, who has made it known that the red carpet belongs to him, came to the 91st Academy Awards wearing a velvet tuxedo gown designed by Christian Siriano.
Presumably smelling like lavender, a good FICO credit score and rocking probably about a smooth 40 pounds of fabric, Porter received his 10’s and strutted down that damn red carpet purse first, as if his life depended on it.
Soon after he made his iconic reveal, an alert sent to the ashiest amongst us was dispersed, emboldening countless men to give their unwarranted and unasked for opinions on Porter’s look.
Two repeated questions in the grammatical error-laden, hate-filled rants stood out to me: “How is a man in a dress ‘black excellence?’” and “What will we tell our young boys when they see this?” It’s an all-too-typical mindset drenched in toxic masculinity and made from a viewpoint that clings to rigid ideas of gender passed down from one damaged man to the next. The idea that someone should fit a certain mold or they’re deemed unworthy is a practice that is long outdated. More important, these cookie-cutter viewpoints of masculinity are exactly why many men and women fear for their lives.
How do you have this conversation with your child, you ask? Simple. You speak from a place of sincerity and not one of hate. You open your eyes and minds to the idea that there is more than one way to be a man (or woman), and that all of them are acceptable. You tell your child that people are allowed to be themselves. You affirm them and let them be themselves.
If you lack the capability to do that, you might be the problem in this equation.
One thing remains fact: Billy Porter slayed the Oscars red carpet, not only making fashion history but a political statement as well. Meanwhile, any need to comment negatively is likely out of sheer ignorance, and a sign that your own insecurities are showing—and that’s a deeper discussion for a licensed professional and a chaise lounge.
We have come entirely too far to tear each other down with poor grammar filled-hate. Ask yourself: How much better are you than a racist who tears another black person down? We as a community need to take ourselves to task and remove the toxicity that has been engrained in us so that we stop passing this on to future generations.
“I want people to understand that you don’t have to understand or even agree with other people’s authenticity or truths, but we must all respect each other,” Porter told Vogue about his choice of outfit. (Repeat: his choice.)
But while you refuse to bar bitterness and continue to dwell on things that don’t concern you, Billy Porter will continue to look like a fairy tale and live happily ever after.
“People are going to be really uncomfortable with my black ass in a ball gown,” he said, “but it’s not anybody’s business but mine.”