The popular long-running children’s show “Sesame Street” recently announced that Billy Porter, an openly homosexual actor known for wearing dresses and gowns, will appear on the broadcast this season. The matter has generated both applause and concern, with at least two groups taking up a petition to ask PBS not to “indoctrinate children” with taxpayer dollars.
“Billy Porter bringing those fierce vibes to Sesame Street #Season51,” Sesame Street posted to social media on Jan. 31, adding a fire emoji and sharing photos of Porter dressed in a Christian Siriano tuxedo gown — including one of Porter smiling alongside Elmo.
As previously reported, Porter — who will play the fairy godmother in the upcoming Sony live-action remake of the Disney tale “Cinderella” — won an Emmy last fall for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series” for his role as Pray Tell in FX’s “Pose” — which is stated to feature “the largest cast of transgender … and LGBTQ actors in television history.” The show centers on drag ballroom culture in the 1980s and 90s, with the struggle of AIDS often running through the story line.
In February 2019, Porter wore the same tuxedo gown to the Oscars, and in June, he donned a red and pink jacket with a train similar to that of a wedding gown. The garment was stated to have been made, in part, from the curtains used in the Broadway musical “Kinky Boots.”
“Hunties, the Tony Awards just got gayer!” Porter wrote on Instagram. “Thank you to @kinkybootsbway and @scenerybags for hooking me up with this curtain. #pride #broadway.”
In an interview with “The Late Night Show With Stephen Colbert,” Porter explained that since pants are no longer considered to be only for men, it seems wrong to him that it would be objectionable for a man to wear a dress, as it would be the equivalent of calling women “disgusting.”
“Women wearing pants is powerful. It’s strong. Everybody accepts it. And [yet] it’s associated with the patriarchy. It’s associated with being male,” he said. “The moment a man puts on a dress, it’s disgusting. So, what are you saying? Men are strong, women are disgusting? I’m not doing that anymore. I’m done with that.”
“I’m a man in a dress, and if I feel like wearing a dress, I’m going to wear one. You know, people forget that Jesus wore a dress too. They call them robes, but He wore a dress. They were dresses,” Porter asserted.
A number of commenters applauded Sesame Street’s announcement that Porter would be appearing on the popular children’s show this year.
“Hear that? That’s the sound of gender stereotypes smashing. ‘Sesame Street’ has always been about acceptance & inclusion, so it absolutely makes that Billy Porter should be a welcomed guest,” one wrote. “And you know if the ‘Muppet Show’ were still around, Billy & Miss Piggy would be having a moment.”
“So proud to see my favorite show when I was a child be something that my children love watching and learning from. He’s beautiful, handsome and fierce. Just like I want my five-year-old son who loves to play princess dress up with his sister to feel,” another remarked.
“He honestly wears that outfit a lot better than some women would! I mean, this is a man who is teaching everyone to be comfortable in their own skin, to stand out in a crowd, and to be their own individual person,” a third opined.
But others expressed deep disappointment and some stated that they would no longer allow their children to watch.
“Instead of confusing children can’t you just continue to teach them how to read, play and count? My children will no longer be watching your show,” one commenter wrote. “I will continue to teach my children to be kind and accepting of others, but I will in no way teach them to accept this as a new ‘normal.'”
“51 seasons and you’ve just destroyed it. Congratulations. We encourage children to be ‘who they are,’ but that isn’t the case really, because you’re teaching a masculine boy it’s not okay to be masculine. He won’t know what he’s supposed to be, do, or dress,” another lamented.
“I’m not explaining this to my child; she’s 3!” a third exclaimed. “Let children enjoy their childhood without imposing this on them.”
The sites Life Site News, a Roman Catholic outlet, and One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association, both launched petitions to ask that PBS drop the episode. Over 57K have signed the Life Site petition as of press time, and over 16K joined the One Million Moms effort.
“Discussion of such controversial topics and lifestyle choices should be left up to parents. PBS KIDS should not introduce the LGBTQ lifestyle to young children,” One Million Moms wrote on its petition page. “PBS KIDS should stick to entertaining and providing family friendly programming, instead of pushing an agenda. … Many families have already discovered that PBS KIDS, largely supported by federal funds, is anything but family friendly.”
Porter responded to the controversy earlier this month, telling PageSix, “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.”
As previously reported, the Bible teaches that all men are in the exact same predicament: All are born with the Adamic sin nature and are therefore “by nature the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3), having various inherent inclinations that are contrary to the law and will of God and being utterly incapable of changing by themselves (Job 14:4).
It is why Jesus came: to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) and that they might be “saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9) — taking out of the way for those who are saved both the penalty for, and the power of, sin.
Scripture outlines that Jesus came to be the propitiation for men’s sins (1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10), a doctrine in Christianity known as substitutionary atonement, and to save men from the wrath of God for their violations against His law (Romans 4:25, Romans 5:9, Romans 5:16), a doctrine known as justification.
The Bible also teaches about regeneration, as in addition to sparing guilty men from eternal punishment, Christ sent his Holy Spirit to make those who would repent and believe the gospel new creatures in the here and now, with new desires and an ability to do what is pleasing in the sight of God by His indwelling and empowerment (Ezekiel 11:19, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Titus 3:5).
Jesus said that men must be born again, and have their very nature transformed by the Spirit from being in Adam to being in Christ, or they cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-8).
“Why does the sinner choose a life of sinful indulgence? Because he prefers it. Man chooses that which is according to his nature, and therefore, before he will ever choose or prefer that which is divine or spiritual, a new nature must be imparted to him. In other words, he must be born again,” the late preacher A.W. Pink once explained.