Pride

Billy Porter Takes Aim at Trump With His 2020 'LGBTQ State of the Union'

Billy Porter State of the Union
Courtesy Photo

Billy Porter delivers LGBTQ+ State of the Union on Logo TV.

On Tuesday night (Feb. 4), President Donald Trump is scheduled to appear before a joint session of Congress to deliver his third State of the Union address to the nation, in the House chamber where he was impeached back in December. But before Trump addresses the nation, actor and activist Billy Porter took a moment to deliver his own speech, this time directly to the LGBTQ community.

Hours before Trump's address, Logo posted their second annual "LGBTQ State of the Union" starring Porter, who delivered an impassioned speech about the challenges the queer community faces in 2020. "Last year, I told you that the state of our union is strong," he said in his opening. "While it certainly has been battered, our union is far from broken. Now, in 2020, our responsibility as citizens has been more evident."

For the first portion of his speech, Porter urges viewers to vote in 2020 to help end "one of the biggest crises of my lifetime": Donald Trump's presidency. The star lays out Trump's actions since taking office that have negatively impacted the community, including his ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military "with a tweet," his backing of the "conscience rule" that would have allowed health care professionals to refuse to perform medical procedures on LGBTQ people due to religious liberty, and his administration's proposed rule change that would allow single-sex homeless shelters to turn away transgender people.

"Donald J. Trump has painted himself as a friend of the LGBTQ community, while revealing his true colors at every malicious turn," Porter says in his address, going further to point out the surge in hate crimes over the past year and the more than 2 dozen transgender people killed in 2019. "This heinous violence against trans people, which disproportionately affects trans women of color is nopthing short of an epidemic. We must confront it as a community and as a country, and we must elect officials who recognize it for the crisis that it is."

Porter also takes time to lay out the various other policies negatively affecting all communities in the U.S., like the lack of response to gun violence, the continuing damage resulting from climate change, the demonization of immigrants and the attack on women's reproductive rights. "The fate of the entire country is in the balance," Porter said. "I know it sounds dramatic, but if now is not the time for drama, child, when is?"

The Pose star goes on to highlight the setbacks and victories of LGBTQ people around the world. Porter notes several violations of queer rights around the world, including the "gay purge" taking place in Chechnya, Brazil's election of anti-LGBTQ president Jair Bolsanaro, and Kenya's ban on gay sex. The star also notes throughout his speech the progress made around the world in the last year, including Brunei's reversal of a law that would punish gay sex with death by stoning, Brazil's criminalization of homophobia and transphobia, and the legalization of same-sex marriage in countries including Taiwan, Ecuador and Northern Ireland.

Coming back to the U.S., Porter points out progress like Utah's ban on conversion therapy, New Jersey's decision to teach LGBTQ history in public schools, and the rise in LGBTQ representation in television and film as a sign of hope for the future. "We are witnessing true progress," he says. "Even in the darkest moments, humanity will find the light and shine bright. The category is living our best lives, on and off screen."

In closing his speech, Porter reminds viewers that the fight ahead would be difficult, but that the queer community has the power to persevere. "Remember that we have far more that connects us than sets us apart," he says. "So, love one another, take care of one another, and let's secure the future for those who will inherit it. In the words of the great James Baldwin, 'Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.'"

Watch Porter's full LGBTQ State of the Union below: