"Women show up every day in pants, but the minute a man wears a dress, the seas part."

Billy Porter stopped traffic on Sunday night at the Academy Awards when he turned up in an unapologetically fabulous black Christian Siriano gown. 

The custom creation included a sharply tailored tuxedo jacket paired with a full-skirted strapless velvet princess gown, including a bow tie and crisp white suit shirt. 

But why, you ask, would a star of the stage and screen go so typically out of left field on the biggest night of the year?

It's deeply personal, Porter tells Vogue.

"When you’re black and you’re gay, one’s masculinity is in question. I dealt with a lot of homophobia in relation to my clothing choices.

"When I landed a role in Kinky Boots, the experience really grounded me in a way that was so unexpected. Putting on those heels made me feel the most masculine I’ve ever felt in my life. It was empowering to let that part of myself free."

His play on gender binaries challenged the rigid Hollywood dress code, pushing boundaries in all the right ways – leaving toxic masculinity at the door. 

"Now I’m in a space where, being on Pose, I’m invited to red carpets and I have something to say through clothes. My goal is to be a walking piece of political art every time I show up. To challenge expectations.

"What is masculinity? What does that mean? Women show up every day in pants, but the minute a man wears a dress, the seas part. It happened to me at the Golden Globes [when I wore a pink cape], and I was like, really? Y’all trippin’? I stopped traffic!"

Porter – with his sartorial choices – did a truly remarkable thing in the most simplistic way. In the eyes of a cynic, popping on a frock may not seem that revolutionary. But it is. For all the little boys struggling to find a place in this world. 

Female athletes around the world are begging for recognition from sports retailer giants under the simple mantra of "if you can't see it, you can't be it". Their work is responsible for the future Serena Williams', Katie Taylors and Cora Stauntons of the world who will thrive off the back of role-model inspiration. 

For the little boys of the world who feel the poisonous weight of conformity – Porter is their public service. 

The world can only grow if we grow with it. 

"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.

"People are going to be really uncomfortable with my black ass in a ball gown—but it’s not anybody’s business but mine."

More of this, please. 

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