Tony Award-winner and current star of FX’s Pose and American Horror Story: Apocalypse, Billy Porter, has penned a frank and revealing personal story of childhood rape and sexual assault for OUT.com.
“Sharing my story with @outmagazine was both cathartic and empowering,” Porter wrote on Twitter. “Be warned, I held nothing back.”
As a disclaimer to the essay, Porter warns the reader that the piece contains “very explicit content,” and if that makes people uncomfortable his advice is to “move on now.”
“Because what we’re not gonna do is shame victims any longer,” he adds. “I have written this piece to continue the excavation of a healing for my soul, not the readers’ comfort level.”
And then, in unfiltered prose, Porter details how his stepfather began to sexually molest/assault him from the time he was 9-years-old.
Porter explains it began with his stepfather introducing him to soft porn and then graduating to more hardcore imagery in Hustler Magazine. His stepfather would ask which pictures he liked and Porter, in an effort to “endear” himself would say, “I like the ones with women and the men.”
A year later, things had escalated to his stepfather choking Porter while forcing him to perform oral sex.
With a reference to the recent Brett Kavanaugh hearings where Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was eventually mocked by the president for not having enough details for her memory to be considered credible, Porter writes:
Cut to a year later with my two hundred and fifty pound stepfather fucking my face with his uncut, coke-can-girthed c**k. (You were warned…)
Is that enough, y’all? Is that horrendous memory “credible” enough or is it too old to matter because I can’t remember the particulars of how I got to the bottom of a face-f*cking position, with the adult put in charge to raise me? Is the manic memory of being suffocated by my stepfather’s beer belly as he…as he…rammed…as I choked.
Am I being too graphic? Is my language to offensive so you can’t “hear” me? After 40-years of taking care of everyone else’s feeling surrounding my trauma, the only person I care about is taking care of myself! Sorry, not sorry.
‘I was born gay and he knew it,” Porter continued. “He knew I would respond favorably to the sex, because sex is pleasurable, sex feels good.”
And then, like many childhood victims of sexual assault, he questions himself. “Maybe it’s my fault,” he writes. “Maybe I asked for it.”
Porter would eventually escape by working at a summer theme park. It was there that the memory of “the affair,” as he had come to call it, would overwhelm him.
It was when his mother came to see him perform that he would tell her of the abuse.
“She believed me but she stayed with him,” writes the Pose star. “I was testing her, I guess? To see if anybody could take care of me. Would there being any consequences for the damage he had inflicted. Would there be any reckoning?”
Porter would spend the next year living in the family basement, filling his schedule with school, dance classes and performances while avoiding his stepfather.
But late one night, when Porter came home late after being at a church concert, his mother forced the two men into a confrontation. The stepfather came downstairs brandishing a leather belt.
“If you hit me… You better kill me,” Porter told his stepfather.
And then his mother demanded that the teenager “Tell him what you told me!” And the stepfather immediately went into denial.
“I didn’t do anything to that boy. I didn’t do anything… he… he didn’t already have coming to him! I told you there was something wrong with him. Something ain’t right with him in the head. I… I can’t believe this. I… That’s a lie. It’s a lie. He’s lying!”
Porter called him out, though. “Lying about what?”
“See…? You just told on yourself.”
Soon after, Porter moved out and headed off to college at Carnegie-Mellon University. Even though the school was just minutes from home, he never went back.
The stepfather would die two years later due to a heart attack.
There would be no closure; no resolution; no healing.
Porter explains the #MeToo movement as well as the recent Brett Kavanaugh/Christine Blasey Ford showdown led him to share his story.
We’ve been forced to endure yet another public victim of these violent atrocities be shamed, mocked, laughed at, disbelieved and discredited while the monsters receive saintly status and are elevated to the highest court in the land with the power to legislate our lives as they see fit. No accountability. No consequences. Time’s up, Bitches! TIMES! UP!
In the end, it’s not a ‘woe-is-me’ story. This is a call to action.
Porter closes with a clarion call to use the one power we have in these trying times.
We have to stop in-fighting each other and band together to save our Democracy and earth’s humanity. Period! The End! Cause I know when the shit hits the fan they’re coming for my black faggoty loud mouth ass first.
So I’m gonna stand on the shoulders of all those who came before us, the folk who laid down their lives for the rights we seems to be so carelessly squandering – and keep screaming and fighting till my dying day! Who’s gonna join me? Pull it together people, it’s time to save the world!
VOTE, BITCHES!!! While we still can! It’s the only power we have!
To call the essay ‘powerful’ would be an incredible understatement.
And then – GO VOTE.