"I apologize to you for having your name in my mouth."
update 11/5/21 at 11am PT
Even though Billy Porter initially made it clear that he wasn't "dragging" Harry Styles when he criticized Vogue for featuring the One Direction singer on the cover in a dress, he spoke out in a new interview on The Late Show and apologized for bringing up Harry specifically in the first place.
"Harry Styles, I apologize to you for having your name in my mouth. It's not about you. The conversation is not about you," the "Pose" star said on Thursday's episode.
"The conversation is actually deeper than that. It is about the systems of oppression and erasure of people of color who contribute to the culture. Now, that's a lot to unpack. I'm willing to unpack it, sans the dragging and cancel culture of the internet," he continued. "Because I do not now, nor will ever, adjudicate my life or humanity in sound bites on social media. So when you're ready to have the real conversation, call a bitch. OK? I'm ready to have it!"
He the joked, "I'm sorry, Harry. I didn't mean no harm. I'm a gay man. We like Harry, he's cute!"
During an interview with The Sunday Times, Porter said that while he wasn't "dragging" Styles at all, he felt the former One Direction singer simply hasn't put in the work the "Pose" has when it comes to men wearing clothing that was traditionally considered feminine, like skirts and dresses.
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"I changed the whole game. I. Personally. Changed. The. Whole. Game. And that is not ego, that is just fact. I was the first one doing it and now everybody is doing it," the Emmy Award winning actor stated.
"I feel like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to. I'm not necessarily convinced and here is why. I created the conversation [about non-binary fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time," he continued.
"I'm not dragging Harry Styles," he added, "but he is the one you're going to try and use to represent this new conversation? He doesn't care, he's just doing it because it's the thing to do."
Porter concluded, "This is politics for me. This is my life. I had to fight my entire life to get to the place where I could wear a dress to the Oscars and not be gunned now. All he has to do is be white and straight."
Although Styles had never publicly labeled his sexual identity, the 27-year-old has always been vocal about his support for the LGBTQ community. He also told Vogue in his feature that he didn’t like to be "limited" to men's clothing while speaking about his fashion sense.
"I'll put on something that feels really flamboyant, and I don't feel crazy wearing it," he said at the time. "I think if you get something that you feel amazing in, it's like a superhero outfit. Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with."
"To not wear [something] because it's females' clothing, you shut out a whole world of great clothes," Styles also told Variety. "And I think what's exciting about right now is you can wear what you like. It doesn’t have to be X or Y. Those lines are becoming more and more blurred."
When his cover dropped, Styles made a ton of headlines -- headlines which only intensified after conservative commentator Candace Owens used the photos to make a plea for more "manly men."
"There is no society that can survive without strong men," Owens said at the time. "The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men."
In the wake of Owens' comments, Twitter was thrown into a frenzy. While some fans came to the "Watermelon Sugar" singer's defense, others ripped Owens directly.
"You're pathetic," wrote Olivia Wilde, while Jameela Jamil wrote, "Harry Styles is plenty manly, because manly is whatever you want it to be, not what some insecure, toxic, woman-hating, homophobic d--kheads decided it was hundreds of years ago. He's 104% perfect."
Kathy Griffin also chimed in, writing, "Candy Owens doesn't know what she in for going up against the Harry Styles stans."
"Since I'm trending I'd like to clarify what I meant when I said 'bring back manly men.' I meant: Bring back manly men," she tweeted following the backlash. "Terms like 'toxic masculinity,' were created by toxic females. Real women don't do fake feminism. Sorry I'm not sorry."
"PSA: Mining pictures on the internet of men in dresses is not going to suddenly make me attracted to men in dresses," she wrote alongside a tweet from a critic who shared photos of Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Kurt Cobain cross-dressing.
"I'm impervious to woke culture. Showing me 50 examples of something won't make it any less stupid. #BringBackManlyMen."