Billy Porter shuts down bigots calling drag ‘perverse’ with new show Accused: ‘Drag is art’

Billy Porter with his hair in bantu knots, wearing a white shirt and leather jacket

Billy Porter’s latest project is all about showing drag queens respect and setting the record straight.

Billy Porter has directed an episode of Fox’s new true-crime anthology Accused, with his instalment focusing on a drag performer who finds herself in court after an affair with a closeted married man goes sour.

The series is adapted from the 2010 British drama of the same name, with the original version of Porter’s episode starring Sean Bean as a cross-dressing character.

“The version of the British series is embarrassing,” Porter told USA Today. “It’s everything that we hate as queer people: Straight people telling our story.” 

Billy Porter’s Accused episode stars non-binary actor J. Harrison Ghee as Kevin, a Bostonian who shines as his drag queen persona Robyn Blind.

Porter said it was important it was for him, as the director of “Robyn’s Story”, to “tell a story about our underserved community with truth and authenticity” and to give drag the respect it deserves.

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Billy Porter has said that it’s important to tell queer stories with authenticity (Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images)

He added: “It was about making sure that the drag entertainer was respected and highly regarded and elevated. I fought to make sure the music used was authentic, that her choreography was on point and that she looked stunningly beautiful. 

The episode comes amid a rising wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being introduced in the USA, including a bill in Tennessee that could ban “male and female impersonators” from performing “on public property” or where they could be seen by children.

On the topic, Porter added: “Drag is a performance art form. Drag is not perverse. A man putting on a dress does not mean we’re coming to molest your children. So stop that. Stop that. It’s performance art. Period.”

In “Robyn’s Story”, J. Harrison Ghee’s character keeps their two personalities distinctly separate – something with which the star identified.

“My drag career got started very similarly. I truly did keep everything separate,” Ghee told USA Today. “I grew up in North Carolina. My father’s a pastor and I didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a drag queen. That journey and that connection was very close to home.” 

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