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“Unprotected: An Evening with Billy Porter,” will be held on Tuesday, November 9, beginning at 7 p.m. via Zoom. The event is free and open to the public, suitable for ages 12 and up. Registration is required.
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, and director, 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 debut memoir, Unprotected, is the life story of a singular artist and survivor. 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. 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. And it is the story of a man who finally is at peace to reveal truths that have haunted him for countless years. In Porter’s own words: “The truth is the healing.”
Porter is the first openly gay Black man to be nominated and win an Emmy Award in any lead acting category. As a director, among other shows, Porter helmed the revival of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog at Boston’s Huntington Theatre, where he was awarded the Elliot Norton Award for Best Director.
Porter will be in conversation with Jamal Jordan, a multimedia artist and occasional professor whose first book, Queer Love in Color, was just released. He has worked with VICE news, NBC News, and The New York Times.
The November 9 webinar is sponsored by Family Action Network (FAN), in partnership with Evanston Township High School D202, Baker Demonstration School, Beacon Academy, Bennett Day School, Catherine Cook School, Chiaravalle Montessori School, Christ Church Winnetka, Compass Health Center, Connections for the Homeless, Countryside Day School, Evanston Scholars, Foundation 65, Francis W. Parker School, Fusion Academy, Glencoe D35, Kenilworth D38, Lake Bluff D65, Lake Michigan Association of Independent Schools, Latin School of Chicago, Magnetar Capital, Mindful Psychology Associates, Near North Montessori School, New Trier High School D203, New Trier Parents’ Association, North Shore Country Day, Regina Dominican High School, Rogers Park Montessori School, Roycemore School, School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University, Science & Arts Academy, Stevenson High School D125, The Family Institute at Northwestern University, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools Parents’ Association, Wolcott College Prep, Woodlands Academy, and Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.).
The event will be recorded and available later on FAN’s website and YouTube channel. For more information, visit www.familyactionnetwork.net.