Tis the season for giving back and PayPal makes it that much easier to give on #GivingTuesday by extending it for the entire month of December.
Back in 2012 Giving Tuesday started as a way to simply encourage people everywhere to do good by donating their time or money to organizations they are passionate about. Fast forward to present day, Giving Tuesday has become a worldwide phenomenon and movement inspiring millions of people all over the world to help. Just last year, 55.1 million people from over 200 markets contributed $9.6 billion to more than 665,000 charitable organizations via PayPal. Taken back by how inspired communities were, PayPal has decided to step it up by making every Tuesday, Giving Tuesday for the entire month of December. Award winning actor, philanthropist and activist Billy Porter sat with The Knockturnal to share why he decided to get involved with this positive initiative, discuss nontraditional ways to give back and to dish on how he blocks out negativity. Check out our interview below!
The Knockturnal: Can you give us a little more information about Giving Tuesday and why you decided to get involved?
Billy Porter: Well you know it’s interesting because growing up one of the first things that I can remember being instilled was giving back and so it’s been a part of me for my entire life. So, when PayPal called it seemed like, you know, the spirits had drawn them to me. PayPal has been a part of Giving Tuesday since 2012, that was one Tuesday, now they’ve expanded it to the entire season of the holiday season but also with the intent to springboard into this idea of giving period, being present to give at all times; to pay it forward at all times because that energy is what makes the world a better place.
The Knockturnal: And I know that some people are a little apprehensive about giving back because they only think of financial donations, so what are some nontraditional ways that you give back and maybe how others can do the same?
Billy Porter: It’s hard you know; I have never had a whole lot of money. But I give as an artist, you know I remember back in the 90s when I first moved to New York City and I would do benefits for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Actors Fund of America and whether it’s just volunteering at an event or being in an event that raises money, singing at an event or doing my own concert series for instance and then all the money was given back. That’s how I give as an artist, that’s how I’ve always gived. You know of course there is the component of giving with money and PayPal will match that by 10%. But you can also give by volunteering, you know you can volunteer; you can mentor, volunteer at a food bank, support small businesses. You know I don’t know if a lot of people understand that but supporting small businesses in your community is a way of giving back in a nontraditional way. You know those clothes that you’ve had in your closet for two decades that you’re swearing you’re going to get down to the size again so you can wear them, just donate them. A lot of people are in need of them.
The Knockturnal: Definitely. And you are a superstar, you’re in the spotlight, especially with social media, do you feel that there’s a pressure for celebrities or someone of a certain status to give back?
Billy Porter: You know this word pressure is something that I have extracted myself from a long time ago. People are going to do what they want to do; people should do what they want to do. For me in my house, I do feel like it’s a responsibility to, for me. You know what I mean, I’m not putting that on anybody else but for me I know that when one has a platform, which I now have, one should use it.
The Knockturnal: Well, let’s get more into you because you are a Tony award winner, Emmy award winner, Grammy award winner, is an Oscar next? What’s next for you professionally?
Billy Porter: Well I can’t predict the future but, I wouldn’t mind, we’ll see. I have to reiterate though, all of the awards are great, all of the success is great, but it’s about the work, it’s always been about the work. I don’t do this for the awards, I do this because I’m an artist and I’ve been called. Now, with that said, the awards are fierce and they’re real nice.
The Knockturnal: Definitely and we see you showing up and showing out at all these award ceremonies, so what is your go to pose, do you have one?
Billy Porter: What’s my go to pose? I would say, there’s a stance that I’ve noticed myself taking a lot where my legs are spread very strong and my arms are sort of in front of me, that’s one pose. If I’m doing something that’s sort of gender non-conforming, I always try to create a strong visible image, one that is like, and what you got to say, bring it! Like that’s my favorite you know because it really is, it really is different, it’s really different from what I think society has been used to when it comes to artists expressing themselves in a sort of gender non-conforming way.
The Knockturnal: Is it new for you to be this kind of role model? I know you said you don’t feel pressure but it’s a new thing for you.
Billy Porter: Well it’s a new thing for me and it’s also something that I stumbled into because I didn’t even really think about it but like being an out gay man, you know I came out in the 80s it was like that was like the last thing that you could do. What I’m doing now is the last thing that you could do and be successful. You know the game was, how masculine can you be, and can you be masculine enough to pass. When I realized I was not masculine enough to pass for anything in the outside world’s mind, that’s not myself but I just stopped trying. And then Kinky Boots came around where I’m literally playing a drag queen, still it didn’t occur to me; still that was a compartmentalized part of myself that I was paid to do and paid to be. I never in a million years thought that I would be wearing dresses in my regular, normal everyday life. You think, well duh boy duh but like, it never occurred to me. And then all of a sudden, it’s like well right, it’s sort of the natural extension of where I’ve come and what I’ve always been. But the difference for me, and this is no tea, no shade, the difference with me and I think the thing that has been so political about it is that I’m not a drag queen and I’m not a transgender in any way. I’m a cisgendered gay man, choosing to play with gender in my fashion, that’s different. And it ruffles feathers in a different way. It really does ruffle feathers in a different way I’ve found.
The Knockturnal: So, have you been feeling that negative feedback?
Billy Porter: No, but I’ve heard it. I don’t lean into that; I lean into the positive. You know we have this space where it’s like 98% of it is positive, you get the 2% that’s negative and that’s the stuff you remember. It’s like no, nope I’m going to lean into the 98% that’s been positive for me and let that put the wind beneath my wings so that I can keep on flying.
The Knockturnal: Ok so on a positive note, you have a movie coming out, Like A Boss, what is that about?
Billy Porter: Yes, so Like A Boss stars Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, Salma Hayek. Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne are best friends and its sort of a female, they own a makeup company, and it’s a female, I call it a female empowerment buddy comedy. It’s rated R I think, you know so it’s of the sort of like Bridesmaids, The Hangover, but with makeup and ladies and fun and it’s just, you know I really love it. I just got to see a screening, it’s really good.
The Knockturnal: And that’s coming out?
Billy Porter: January 10, yes.
For more information about how you can join in on #GivingTuesday, be sure to check out the link below.