Pose’s Billy Porter makes Emmy history as out gay black actor

Actor and singer Billy Porter has made history by becoming the first openly gay black man to be nominated for the Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy.

Porter, 49, was among the nominees announced in Los Angeles for the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards. He was recognised for his role as master of ceremonies Pray Tell on the award-winning drama Pose.

“My breath is taken away. I’m so thrilled. It’s an amazing feeling,” the entertainer, who started his career on Broadway and is already a Tony and Grammy award winner, told People after his nomination.

“I feel really blessed to have lived long enough to see this day, to see the world transform in this way, where our story gets to be told on this level with this kind of juice behind it, [producer] Ryan Murphy behind it,” Porter said. “It’s really life-altering.”

Pose, which previously made history for having the largest-ever cast of transgender actors in series regular roles, is now in its second season. The show is about the African-American and Latino trans, gay and gender-nonconforming ballroom culture scene in New York City in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Billy Porter is a gifted actor whose historic nomination will inspire so many LGBTQ fans who cheer for him each week on Pose,” commented Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of LGBTQ media lobby group, GLAAD. “He is a force for change in the entertainment industry who consistently uses his voice to send game-changing messages of individuality and empowerment.”

Season one of Pose also received several additional nominations, most notably for Outstanding Drama Series.

Other LGBTQ stars and characters that were nominated included Laverne Cox (Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, Orange is the New Black); Cherry Jones (Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, The Handmaid’s Tale); Ryan O’Connell (star and producer of Special, for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series); and Ben Whishaw (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, A Very English Scandal).

Out comedian and actor, Kate McKinnon was recognised for her work on Saturday Night Live as was Wanda Sykes for her standup special Wanda Sykes: Not Normal.

RuPaul’s Drag Race was nominated for Outstanding Competition Program, while RuPaul himself was also nominated in Outstanding Host for a Reality Program or Competition Program.

“The Television Academy sent a powerful message today not only about LGBTQ representation, but diverse LGBTQ representation on television,” said Ellis.

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