Why Billy Porter Has An Issue With Harry Styles' Famous Vogue Cover

Harry Styles has never had a problem stunning the world with his incredible fashion, stellar vocals, and overall charming disposition. But in November 2020, he changed the game and presented himself in a way that, while it may have seemed totally new to us, was still very on-brand for the singer. Indeed, Styles confidently graced the cover of Vogue magazine in a gorgeous light blue lace-trimmed Gucci dress.

"I find myself looking at women's clothes, thinking they're amazing," said the "Watermelon Sugar" singer in his interview with the publication. The response to his feature was overwhelmingly positive, with fans all over social media raving over Styles' choice to rock a dress, with one fan in particular commenting on the weight and beauty of seeing someone in the public eye reminding us that "clothing does not have a gender and is meant to be worn by whoever wants to wear it," per Twitter.

But while this act certainly deserves celebration, it is most certainly not the first of its kind — and Billy Porter wants you to know that.

Billy Porter claims he 'changed the whole game'

Billy Porter has had an illustrious career in entertainment, from starring in Broadway shows like "Kinky Boots" to appearing in all three seasons of "Pose," for which he received several award nominations and wins (via FX). In addition to absolutely killing it on-screen, in real life, Porter has treated the world as his runway and seems to use every public appearance as a way to show off his incredible sense of style. Over the years, he has paved the way for people to express themselves however they see fit and not limit themselves to a perceived gendering of fashion, often opting to wear dresses, skirts, and makeup (via Harper's Bazaar).

In a recent interview with The Sunday Times, Porter addressed Harry Styles' 2020 Vogue cover and expressed great issue with it. Indeed, he believes that the public has unjustly attributed the popularization of non-binary clothing to Styles, while Porter believes it should go to himself. Porter says in the interview that he was the "first one doing it," adding, "I changed the whole game. I. Personally. Changed. The. Whole. Game. And that is not ego, that is just fact. I was the first one doing it and now everybody is doing it."

Does Harry Styles being celebrated on Vogue represent a larger issue?

Billy Porter isn't the first person to make these claims. According to an essay by Rachel Askinasi for Business Insider, it's "irresponsible and counterintuitive" to suggest that Harry Styles is the first man to bravely assume a traditionally feminine wardrobe. She writes that she can't understand how Styles can be considered "revolutionary" in his fashion choices when so many others throughout history — and even to this day — have been "mocked, ostracized, beaten, and even killed for doing the same thing he's done." However, she makes sure to specify that she doesn't seek to vilify Styles, but rather takes issue with a system that commends some for decisions while punishing others.

As for Porter, he believes Styles being celebrated for his Vogue shoot represents a much bigger issue. "I feel like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to. I'm not necessarily convinced and here is why," the actor explained. "I created the conversation [about non-binary fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time," per The Sunday Times.