Sesame Street, television’s longest-running children’s program, announced that Billy Porter will head to the street during the show’s 51st season.
The show’s official Twitter and Facebook posted about the Pose actor’s future appearance. In the photos, Porter sports his iconic tuxedo dress, also seen at last year’s Oscars ceremony. He also quote-tweeted Sesame Street, expressing his excitement about being featured and also about meeting Elmo.
Both of the posts received a mix comments that were mostly positive.
One Facebook user wrote: “He is such a handsome, confident, successful man who knows who he is, what he wants, & how to go out & get it! I can only hope my children look up to this fantastic role model & take all the wonderful lessons in. Thank you Sesame Street, this representation is SO needed.”
“Yay, Sesame Street! Has always been my favorite kids show. Proud to see them continuing to shape kids into being loving and accepting of all,” commented another user.
However, not every comment can be as nice.
A Twitter user said: “Brainwashing our children into normalizing homosexuality/transgenderism.”
Someone on Facebook wrote: “Absolutely not. Instead of confusing children can’t you just continue to teach them how to read, play and count?”
One person—along with many others—on Facebook defended Porter’s Sesame Street appearance: “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.”
Porter identifies as a gay man and has been turning heads due to his fashion statements and gender-bending norms. From the tuxedo dress to his outfit at this year’s Grammy Awards, whatever he wears, the Pose actor does it with confidence, just like how he graced this month’s cover of Allure. He is also the first male-identifying cover model in the publication’s history.
LGBTQ Representation In Children’s TV
While LGBTQ representation in television increased as a whole, its representation in children’s shows have also grown in recent years.
Animated shows such as Steven Universe and Star vs. The Forces of Evil tackle subjects such as homophobia and challenge what it means to dress outside of gender norms. The Loud House, Clarence and The Brave Knight each feature same-sex parents, and Arthur featured a same-sex marriage in children’s tv for the first time.
In addition, Disney’s live-action show, Andi Mack, featured the coming-out of one of its main characters, Cyrus. These shows give children a chance to see characters that may not fit the norm of society, or even describe what they may be experiencing.
T.R. Knight of The Brave Knight told USA Today that he wishes he saw this kind of LGBTQ representation while he was growing up.
Non-binary actress Asia Kate Dillon also chimed in, saying that they would have benefitted from this kind of exposure as a kid and said it would have been life-changing.
“It’s one of the reasons I feel really proud and also humbled to be playing Taylor on ‘Billions’ and also The Adjudicator in ‘John Wick 3.’ These are non-binary characters who are getting wide visibility and who are integral characters in the stories that they’re a part of… I get messages from people of all ages all over the world who say they feel less alone.”