Billy Porter Makes History with Emmy Nomination

Pose actor Billy Porter has made history as the first openly gay black man to receive an Emmy nomination for Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

The 49-year-old actor was nominated for his portrayal of ball emcee Pray Tell in the Ryan Murphy show about the New York City ballroom scene of the ‘80s and ‘90s.

“My breath is taken away,” Porter told People on Tuesday (July 16). “I’m so thrilled. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Pose also received a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series.

“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, Ryan Murphy behind it,” he said. “It’s really life-altering.”

Porter, who has been an actor for 30 years, recalled how his sexuality used to be a handicap when it came to his career but now allows him to portray “three-dimensional human being[s]” like Pray Tell.

“My outness was always considered a liability for me and that has turned around,” he said. “In my life in the business, having that flamboyant ability, very often that’s where you’re pigeonholed, that’s where you’re sort of put in a box. I’m glad I’m out of that box. I’m glad that Pray Tell gets to be a really three-dimensional human being.”

A number of other LGBTQ-friendly shows and actors were nominated for Emmys as well. RuPaul’s Drag Race received a whopping 14 nominations, including Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program and Outstanding Short Form Non-Fiction or Reality Series.

Queer Eye received six nominations, Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer picked up nominations for Lead Actress in a Drama Series for their roles in Killing Eve, Game of Thrones received a record-breaking 32 nominations – with out queer actress Sophie Turner nominated for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – Billy Eichner’s Billy on the Street received one nomination, and Schitt’s Creek also received a nod.

Out trans actress Laverne Cox received a nomination for her role in Orange is the New Black.

The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards will air September 22 at 8pm. See the full list of this year’s nominees here.