Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Billy Porter: Her Name Was Lola

Billy Porter.  Some call him The Voice.  I call him an inspiration.  He is out and proud.  He is African-American.  He is a star of the big screen and of the stage.  He is a Tony award winner.  He is an R&B recording artist.  And he slays everytime he steps up to the mic.

I first learned of Billy Porter in the 1990s.  I was in college when he dropped his hit Show Me.  It was in heavy rotation in my little dorm room.  Interesting little point, this song came out about the same time I was getting comfortable in my skin and starting to come out of the closet.  At the time of its release, I was unaware that Porter was gay.

The next time I would see Porter was when he appeared on Oprah in 2005.  The topic of her show was being gay and being in show business.  Billy had shared his story with the author of When I Knew, and several contributors were on the show to share their coming out stories. On the show he discussed how his family went into denial after his attempt to come out to them.   On Oprah he shared . . .
It was a powerful case of denial—Billy says he had to come out to his mother three times! "I come from a very religious background," he explains. "My mother is a Pentecostal preacher, and she just didn't want to hear it." After two failed attempts, Billy decided to bring home a man he was in love with. "It's not about you," he told his mom the third time. "It's about me. I have to live this."
Then I fell in love with him again when I saw him in one of my all-time favorite movies Broken Hearts Club.  Billy played Taylor, the tightly wound, over the top, relationship oriented guy who learns not long into the movie that his boyfriend is leaving him for a trainer named Dash. This makes for one of my favorite movie lines ever.  "I've been dumped for a punctuation mark."

Mr. Porter would really step into his greatest when he took on the role of Lola in Cyndi Lauper's Broadway production of Kinky Boots.  Billy was cast in the role of Lola.  In an interview regarding the show, he said, "You know Lola is a force of nature human being who is on the planet as a conduit for change." He says he was born to play this part.  I believe him because he owned this part.  His performance was so spectacular  that it earned him a Tony Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical.

In January of 2017, Billy married his long term partner, Adam Smith. Smith is co-owner of the eyewear company Native Ken.  The two met in 2009 and dated for a year but eventually broke up.  They would connect again in 2015 and this time things moved rather quickly for the two of them.  They would become engaged on December 29, 2016 and  their actual nuptials happened shortly thereafter. According to Smith, it was important for the two of them to get married while Barack Obama was still in office as President of the United States.

Billy has such a strong voice and there are so many recordings of his that I admire.  But there is one that stands out a bit more than the others for me.  "Love Is On The Way" is from The First Wives Club Soundtrack.  It's a song I cannot hear this without getting emotional.  For me, tears come every time he belts "love is on the way on wings of angels." Please take a listen below . . .

No comments: