From the incomparable Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award winner, a powerful and revealing autobiography about race, sexuality, art, and healing—now in paperback
It’s easy to be yourself when who and what you are is in vogue. But growing up Black and gay in America has never been easy. Before Billy Porter was slaying red carpets and giving an iconic Emmy-winning performance in the celebrated TV show Pose; before he was the groundbreaking Tony and Grammy Award–winning star of Broadway’s Kinky Boots; and before he was an acclaimed recording artist, actor, playwright, director, and all-around legend, Porter was a young boy in Pittsburgh who was seen as different, who didn’t fit in. At five years old, Porter was sent to therapy to “fix” his effeminacy. He was endlessly bullied at school, sexually abused by his stepfather, and criticized at his church. Porter came of age in a world where simply being himself was a constant struggle.
Billy Porter’s Unprotected is the life story of a singular artist and survivor in his own words. It is the story of a boy whose talent and courage opened doors for him, but only a crack. It is the story of a teenager discovering himself, learning his voice and his craft amid deep trauma. And it is the story of a young man whose unbreakable determination led him through countless hard times to where he is now; a proud icon who refuses to back down or hide. Porter is a multitalented, multifaceted treasure at the top of his game, and Unprotected is a resonant, inspirational story of trauma and healing, shot through with his singular voice.
Broadway and television star Porter lays bare his traumatic upbringing and path toward healing in his revelatory debut. He writes in an intimate, conversational style, leaping from past to present and pairing his reflections on growing up gay in the 1970s with living through the AIDS epidemic and the deep pain and fear of the Trump presidency and Covid-19 pandemic. Those who know Porter from his Grammy and Emmy award–winning roles in Kinky Boots and the TV show Pose will relish the insider look at those productions and marvel at the tribulations Porter overcame to get there—from his sexual abuse by his stepfather to the racism and homophobia he encountered in the entertainment world. Just as captivating are the ways in which Porter advocated for himself—"I will be singing everything up the octave until this issue is resolved," he told directors in response to being asked to sing in a key below his register—earning him a "difficult" reputation among white gatekeepers in the industry and leading him to fight harder for space on the stage. Haunting and inspirational, this is both a powerful indictment of the lasting harms of bigotry and an immensely moving account of moving forward.
Unprotected but Blessed
Thank you for sharing your story Billy Porter of how you became who you are in your truth and authenticity. Great read that will inspire many. God bless you. 🙏🏽
Billy Porter blessed us with his honesty, humanity and willingness to share himself so intimately with the reader. He is an inspiration, an amazing artist and deserves all that is good in life!
Thank you Billy for sharing your journey this far with us. I can relate with you and feel less alone in the world now.