Pose Star Billy Porter Reveals Past Sexual Abuse in Searing Op-Ed (Exclusive)

BILLY PORTER

DISCLAIMER: Be advised this contains very explicit content. If that makes you uncomfortable I suggest you move on now. Because what we’re not gonna do is shame the victims any longer. I have written this piece to continue with the excavation of a healing for my soul, not the readers' comfort level. You’ve been warned.

I was having a nightmare. Usually my sweet mother would come into my bedroom, lay beside me - No words were needed, not a peep. Her mere presence was all the comfort needed till morning. So you can imagine my surprise when we moved into the new house, with the new stepfather and he laid by my side.

There were no words at first. Just like mommy. But then he began cuddling me. Spooning me. Innocent enough, right? I was longing for a father figure. My biological father vanished when I was one-and-a-half. He beat my mommy. He told the neighborhood that she was a witch, that’s why she had a  compromised gait. My mother’s been handi-capable since birth. Medical malpractice. We should be millionaires but this was America in the 40’s. Black. Poor. Nobody cared. Still don’t. But I digress.

To groom me, StepDaddy introduced me to porn, starting with the softer side of via Playboy Playmates then quickly escalating to the more hardcore Hustler magazine. After a time he asked me which pictures I liked the best. 

“I like the ones with women and the men,” I cooed.

Trying to endear myself to him. Because you see, I had spent the previous year being evaluated by a psychologist. Every Wednesday after school I would be carted to this white man’s office where he would ask me an hours worth of questions I didn’t understand but tried my best to answer correctly. The messaging from my religious family was that something was clearly wrong with me and I needed to be fixed.  The psychologist asked me questions, squinted and took notes on my behavior. I tried to answer right. I tried to be good. And at the end of the school year it seemed I had passed the test.

“He’s a fine boy. You just need to get a man around the house to teach him to be more of a man.”

Cut to a year later with my two hundred and fifty pound stepfather fucking my face with his uncut, coke-can-girthed cock. (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-fucking 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.

 There was pleasure. Right? When I would climax. I was too young to produce any spooj so I just convulsed. I was born gay and he knew it. He knew I would respond favorably to the sex, because sex is pleasurable, sex feels good. I guess the statute of limitations on accountability has passed because this happened circa 1977-to-1981? Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I asked for it…actually…I did ask for it. By year three we were making booty call dates over morning breakfast,  in code and playing footsies under the table before I skipped off to catch the bus to middle school.

Fast-forward to the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school.  I was performing in the shows at Kennywood Park in my hometown of Pittsburgh when the memory of the affair flooded my senses. Yeah - can you believe that shit? I called it an affair for 20-years before my therapist helped me change the language.

Seven year old boys do not have affairs with 50-year-old men. It’s called sexual abuse. Plain and simple.” 

And for those of you who like to conflate being gay with sexual abuse or having a weak mother figure or any of that nonsense - let’s be clear, my mother is anything but weak and I was molested because the predator knew I was already gay, so stop it!

 My sister was seven when the family came to see me perform at Kennywood Amusement Park. I saw how he looked at her as they pedaled their tandem paddle boat around the moat that encircled our performance stage. He was different with her. He loved her in a way that I envied. I never had a daddy like that. She was daddy’s little girl and it still pains me to this day that we’ve been left on this earth to grapple with the Jekyll & Hyde of it all. We choose to live two separate realities. It’s the only way for us both to stay sane. My sister is a rockstar of a human being and I wouldn’t be alive without her in my life. Period! And with that said, at the time, I still didn’t know if he was a closeted queen or an equal opportunity pedophile but I knew I had to say something.

I told my mother that day, in that moment, in between my third and fourth shows. She believed me but she stayed with him. 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?  In my mother’s defense, where would she go - a disabled woman who couldn’t get a job, with two mouths to feed? I told her to stay. I would save myself. What else were we gonna do?

I withdrew underground to my basement bedroom and locked the door, only coming up for air to go to school and dance classes till 10pm nightly. Our family schedules allowed for us all to miss each other, like ships passing in the night.  A year later everything came to a head when my mother staged a confrontation between the two of us. She got us both into the living room at 2am under the pretense of me breaking curfew. She knew where I was. I was hanging out after a gospel concert at church! I was at church! I called to check in but yet and still mommy was up when I got home, and yelling! She woke up Dear Ol’ Step-Daddy who decided that this would be the perfect time to try and start parenting somebody. He came in hot! Brandishing a belt! Oh, so you want to beat me now - not fuck me? He was in boxers. His naked belly blubbering over his tattered waistband like a hulking water balloon threatening to burst and drown me like a waterboard torture session. CRACK!

“If you hit me… You better kill me…,” I hissed.

“What chu say to me, Boy?,” He huffed. 

I stood face-to-face. Toe-to-toe with my abuser. I wish a muthafucka would!

“TELL HIM!”

“What?!?!,” I tensed. Immediately tuned in to what mother was doing. 

“TELL HIM WHAT YOU TOLD ME!!!,” she shrieked with tears of fire streaming down her cheeks.

Before I could even respond, Stepdaddy was vomiting the inevitable, deranged, victim-shaming 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!” 

“Lying about what?," I silenced!

“See...?
You just told on yourself.”

And just like that - it was over. I moved out a month later to go back and perform at Kennywood Park for the summer before heading off to university to study drama-and- conflama at Carnegie Mellon University. Even though my college was only a mere fifteen minute drive from my childhood home, I never went back. 

In 1989, the spring of my sophomore year, Stepdaddy had a mild heart attack. My mother begged me to “be a Christian” and go to the hospital to maybe have a rapprochement. I begrudgingly decided it was the right thing to do so I went to visit him on my lunch break from school. I literally had not laid eyes on the man in over a year and some change. His demeanor was different. He seemed pensive. Remorseful even. He told me he was proud of me. He told me to not let anyone change who I am. Ummm...da fuck...? I left that hospital dazed and confused yet hopeful, I guess. In less than 24-hours later he was dead. 

I don’t have nightmares much anymore - really,

But I’m…haunted.

Not a day goes by that I don't think about it.

Every choice, every decision, every relationship, every fucking breath I take...

Then he died.

The motherfucker died before I had a chance for resolve.

No closure.
No healing.

I hate him for that!

I hate him for robbing me.

My childhood.

My innocence.

He dumped his shit on me and then disappeared.

Now it's my shit!

OUR shit!

And WE have to live with it.

Pay...

The Sins of the Father...

The hate consumes me with a power that paralyzes.

I'm better sometimes.

I have really great days,

I have really bad ones.

Trying to sort things out.

PLEASURE turned to SHAME turned to RAGE.

 

I understand now how people lose their minds.

I understand the addict who needs a fix 'cause he just wants the pain to go away,

Or to subside at the very least

And just when I think it's over...

That pain,

That fury...

Every time I feel like I've made progress -

Forgiving myself,

Forgiving him,

Forgiving the world, the universe,

or WHATEVER...

The shit comes back…

Morphing into yet another terrifying monster,

Coming for me bigger and stronger than the time before,

laughing at me, just laughing...

So it’s not surprising that this whole “#METOO/Times Up”  situation has triggered all sorts of monsters in my psyche with the force of a thousand aftershocks. And while there has been some movement in the right direction in our culture. Now, on occasion it’s, “We believe you.” And yet - no consequences. The same old narrative continues to be the status quo. 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!

Don’t get it twisted people, Brett Kavanaugh is a sexual predator, a liar, a drunk and everybody knows it. His guilt is evident by his lies and self-righteous display of entitlement at those disturbing farcical hearings.  Yes, we’ve seen the clown car reveal of Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer and Roger Alles and  Bill Cosby and the like - go down in flaming balls of fire, and that is progress - but this Supreme Court side-show is different.

To believe Dr. Ford and actually do the right thing about it would be to relinquish White Power. White privilege hangs in the balance and the only way to hold onto whiteness or at least slow down progress and equality is to stack the courts with White Supremacist allies. And make no mistake while we’re being distracted by the “unprecedented” clown games of this administration, white men are terrified. And when white men get scared…well…y’all know...

We’ve seen this before. It was called reconstruction, The Jim Crow Soul, The 13th Amendment…? Remember that shit? Or are we gonna continue to have selective amnesia? I read somewhere a while back that “When privilege is all you know, equality feels like oppression.” Now I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I’m done explaining myself to folk who don’t want to listen. I’m done with “teaching moments” with folk who don’t wanna learn nuthin’. I used to believe in “When they go low, we go high,” I wanna believe we can still take the high road and I will continue to do so with all my heart. But it’s time to redefine what “going high” means. My grandmother use to always say two things: 1.) Always lead with love, but sometimes tough love is required. 2.) Some situations in life require a lil’ cussin’!

So - fuck this shit! I ain’t scared! I’m ain’t terrified! I’m pissed! I’m enraged! And you should be too. We are on the precipice of a modern civil war, so it’s time to stop taking a bag of popcorn to a gun fight. 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!

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