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Billy Porter reveals lasting trauma from the sexual abuse he endured at the hands of his stepfather

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Billy Porter is candid about being beaten by bullies and the years of sexual abuse he endured at the hands of his stepfather, saying he’s still grappling with childhood trauma decades later.

In a new interview with People, the Pose star, 52, recalled how his mother, Cloerinda Ford, 76, remarried when he was seven, saying his stepfather started sexually abusing him one night after having a “birds and bees” conversation.

“As a child, I became a grown man,” he told the magazine. ‘In my mind I lived that experience as if it were an affair. Because it was loving, it was nurturing, it was confusing. Because it was touch. It was what I needed; it was the illusion of care, of a big, strong man taking care of me. Yet to this day I am not well.’

Candid: Billy Porter, 52, is candid about being bullied as a child and sexually abused by his stepfather, saying he’s still ‘not okay’

Looking back: Porter (pictured as a child) recalled seeing the abuse as an 'affair' in his mind because it felt 'loving' and 'caring', explaining that 'it was the illusion of care'

Looking back: Porter (pictured as a child) recalled seeing the abuse as an ‘affair’ in his mind because it felt ‘loving’ and ‘caring’, explaining that ‘it was the illusion of care’

Porter said the abuse occurred at least twice a week over a five-year period, and that wasn’t the only hardship he faced as a child in his conservative Pentecostal community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where it was a constant battle to protect himself. to be.

“My black queerness made everyone uncomfortable,” he explained.

Porter, the first openly gay black man to win an Emmy for Leading Actor in a Drama, discovered his incredible singing voice in church, but the way he performed was “a disgrace to God.”

When he was in first grade, he was beaten so much that he woke up in the hospital. He remembered his mother telling him, ‘They crucified Jesus, honey. You’ll be fine.’

The Grammy and Tony winner said his voice “has always saved me,” and he says musical theater has given him purpose.

Trauma: Actor's mother, Cloerinda Ford, 76, (pictured) remarried when he was seven, and his stepfather began sexually assaulting him one night after a 'birds and the bees' conversation

Trauma: Actor’s mother, Cloerinda Ford, 76, (pictured) remarried when he was seven, and his stepfather began sexually assaulting him one night after a ‘birds and the bees’ conversation

Target: Porter, the first openly gay black man to win an Emmy for Leading Actor in a Drama, was beaten so hard he had to be hospitalized when he was in first grade

Target: Porter, the first openly gay black man to win an Emmy for Leading Actor in a Drama, was beaten so hard he had to be hospitalized when he was in first grade

“I don’t think I’d be alive if I hadn’t discovered it,” he admitted. “If I hadn’t seen those things like The Wiz and Dreamgirls, I could never have dreamed outside of my circumstances.”

Porter wrote about being bullied at school, his stepfather’s sexual abuse and his struggle to be accepted as a queer black man in his new memoir, Unprotected, due out October 19.

The Cinderella star told People that he started therapy at the age of 25 and resumed it during the pandemic while continuing to work on healing his past wounds.

Porter and his husband, Adam Smith, 40, have been married since 2017 and he admitted his trauma has strained their relationship.

“My sex life in relation to intimacy isn’t — it’s not good at all,” he explained.

Honest: Porter wrote about being bullied at school, his stepfather's sexual abuse and his struggle to be accepted as a queer black man in his new memoir, Unprotected

Honest: Porter wrote about being bullied at school, his stepfather’s sexual abuse and his struggle to be accepted as a queer black man in his new memoir, Unprotected

Growing up together: Porter and husband, Adam Smith, 40, have been married since 2017 and he admitted past trauma is 'really, really hard in a marriage'

Growing up together: Porter and husband, Adam Smith, 40, have been married since 2017 and he admitted past trauma is ‘really, really hard in a marriage’

“It’s very, very hard in a marriage, you know, when you’re trying to figure out how to be intimate with someone,” he added. “But we grow together and heal together. It’s a lot of hard work. Let me say, it’s worth it.’

Porter, who revealed in May that he has been HIV positive since 2007, has been candid about his experience and appears to be finally satisfied.

“At 52 years old, I am reaching the deepest parts of my truth,” he said. “I have a rebirth—on my own terms.”

He also refuses to dim his lights for his online trolls after years of hearing his critics tell him he’s “too much.”

“I don’t judge my life on social media,” he said. ‘Nobody can do what I can. That’s not ego. That’s just a fact. You can all say what you like, for you are blowing the fire of hate in an ocean of love.’

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