The Pen

Billy Porter and the Normalization of Perversion at the Oscars

“A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 22:5

Last night, Hollywood celebrated the 91st Annual Academy Awards. As expected, celebrities lined the red carpet in high-fashion formal wear to the adulation of their adoring fans. Usually, female celebrities garner the lion’s share of attention and press for their outfits, as their male counterparts shuffle past them in nondescript tuxedos like so many penguins. However, this year it was a male celebrity, Billy Porter, who turned the most heads. Porter, an award-winning singer, wore a gown on the red carpet and the secular media was set alight with his praise.

Hollywood culture is known and celebrated by the world for cultivating a population of sexually and religiously diverse (or averse as the case may be) celebrities.  Porter fits right in to it. He is a vocally gay celebrity and is “married” to a businessman named Adam Smith.   Porter is no stranger to the red carpet. The accomplished singer has been awarded a Grammy and a Tony.  Both of these awards were given to Porter for his contribution to Kinky Boots, a Broadway musical about drag queens.

In one of the many articles written about his Oscar dress, Billy Porter was vividly praised for his “showstopping” velvet tuxedo gown.  This article, published at Pop Sugar, describes Porter’s gender-bending outfit as, “business on the top and magnificent on the bottom.”  The publication’s related Facebook post has over fifty comments and, sadly, many are echo the praise of its author.  One user, Teresa White, commented, “When I first saw this picture all I could think was ‘AAAAMMMAAZZZIINGGG!’ He absolutely slayed in this outfit.”  Another user, Jeanine Russo, wrote, “Why not? Nobody else has done it.  That’s Hollywood!!” Some of the commenters, eschewing compliments, stated the obvious: Billy Porter was seeking attention, trying to turn heads.

Porter is the perfect vessel for Satan’s destructive machinations, hitting many of the social triggers the American population likes to debate: race, homosexuality, and gender roles. It is these very Satanic machinations that those who would otherwise have a “to each his own” attitude should keep in mind. Porter’s actions were not society neutral despite his statement that his ball gown was “not anybody’s business” but his own. Porter’s outrageous outfit, in today’s cultural milieu, simply isn’t outrageous. Cross-dressing has been normalized. Yet, Christians should not press the Jerry Falwell panic button and jump straight to outrage. Tool of the devil or not, Billy Porter is a confused and deceived person in desperate need of Christian love and guidance.  He is so confused that he wears his perversion and duality on the most celebrated of platforms. Rather than encourage and accept such behavior, Christians should be prepared to point those who condone it to Christ.

Proverbs 31:25 describes the virtuous woman as one who is clothed in strength and dignity, looking hopefully ahead to the future.  This can hardly be said of the annual Oscar parade of half-naked Hollywood starlets who parade their immodesty down the red carpet, awash in a sea of camera flashes. Among their celebrated number is now a man wearing a dress. Female and male celebrities alike foist themselves into the limelight, endeavoring to model the most enviable designer clothing and strike the sexist poses in efforts to generate pictures that sell and gain recognition. In the end, these self promoters promote little more than their own misaligned idolatry. Just like cockroaches who scurry away from the light into the darkness, unbelieving pagan celebrities run headlong into darkness of the perverted Hollywood culture while fleeing from the strength and dignity available to sinners through the Lordship of the one true savior Jesus Christ.

[Contributed by: Laura Dunn]
[Edited by: Seth Dunn]

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant