Billy Porter realized he was gay in 1978 when his family moved into a new house. "We didn't have much, but we had beautiful hardwood floors," Billy remembers. "And wooden door frames with detailing that I loved. I went to school one day, and I came home and my stepfather had carpeted over all of my beautiful hardwood floors with semi-shag carpeting! Then he painted over the wooden door frames with brown glossy paint!"
Billy's tears of outrage marked a turning point for him and his parents. "We didn't know what it was called, but that was officially the day that my family went into denial," Billy says.
It was a powerful case of denial—Billy says he had to come out to his mother three times! "I come from a very religious background," he explains. "My mother is a Pentecostal preacher, and she just didn't want to hear it." After two failed attempts, Billy decided to bring home a man he was in love with. "It's not about you," he told his mom the third time. "It's about me. I have to live this."