Billy Porter calls out division between Black church, LGBTQ+ community

The actor sits down with theGrio's April Ryan in a revealing conversation on the fight for equality, and how Christianity is often used against the LGBTQ+ community

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Billy Porter is speaking out. The Emmy Award-winning actor, activist, and singer sat down with theGrio‘s April Ryan in a frank, nuanced and revealing conversation, calling out the division between the Black church and the LGBTQ+ community as Pride month comes to a close.

At this point in his life, Porter is ready to reflect on his journey and healing after coming out of 2020.

“I’m a survivor of extensive amounts of trauma in my life,” he tells Ryan.

Earlier this year, Porter revealed that like his character on the groundbreaking FX show Pose, he’s HIV-positive. After keeping it a secret since his 2007 diagnosis, he characterized the revelation as freeing.

He told Ryan how the COVID-19 pandemic, while isolating, helped him sort through certain aspects of his path so far and “refocus his life” while continuing to fight the good fight for equality.

2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones - Arrivals
Billy Porter attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on February 09, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

“It’s interesting because COVID and the isolation of it, you know, really refocused and repurposed my life,” he explained. “I always had focus, and I always had purpose, right? But there’s something about COVID that taught me about taking care of myself…self-care, balance, and boundaries because there’s a lot of work to do. And if we’re worn out, if we wear ourselves out, we can’t engage properly in the fight.”

As a Black man in the LGBTQ+ community, however, Porter has had to learn to deal with the triggers and trauma in his own way.

He explains, “It’s debilitating and it’s paralyzing. If there’s one muscle that I have learned this year, the strongest muscles in my body…are dissociation and compartmentalization. I’ve had to disassociate and compartmentalize every aspect of my entire life…so that muscle is really strong.”

The ignorance and hatred hurled at LGBTQ+ people, Porter claims, also comes from the Black community.

He revealed, “I’m not just talking about the government, I’m not just talking about white people, I’m talking about Black people too, who have turned their backs on the LGBTQ+ community, using and weaponizing the Bible as justification for their hate. It’s called hate, I don’t care how you word it…I thought we wasn’t supposed to hate at all?”

Billy Porter,
Billy Porter attends the red carpet event for FX’s “Pose” at Pacific Design Center on Aug. 9, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Porter dived even deeper into the historical implications and irony of Black people using Christianity and the Bible to oppress their LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters.

He told Ryan, “It’s the miseducation of not understanding that Christianity is the colonizer’s religion. Christianity is what white people forced on us after bringing us over, stealing us from our own country…and they told us that Jesus told them to do it and that we’ll have rewards on the other side. That’s the same doctrine that you’re using to oppress another group of people…no! The answer is no!”

Porter and Ryan connected with their interpretations of the Bible, with Porter sharing, “I know exactly what the Bible says and it does not say to treat people that way that ya’ll have been treating us.”

Ryan agreed. “The Bible that I use, it talks about love thy neighbor…it doesn’t qualify, it doesn’t quantify,” she said.

Porter, lighting up, exclaims, “No…it doesn’t!”

Check out the full interview with Porter and Ryan above.

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