The popular children’s program confirmed the news on social media Thursday, and posted photos of Porter on set. Some of the images showed the “Pose” and “Kinky Boots” star in the Christian Siriano-designed ensemble he wore to the 2019 Academy Awards. Others showed him grinning happily alongside Elmo and other characters.
“An iconic day with an iconic person,” the tweet read.
Porter was quick to share his enthusiasm, too, writing, “Y’all, talk about iconic... I was tickled to meet Elmo and the gang.”
Given Porter’s status as a gender-fluid fashion icon, response to the “Sesame Street” news was sharply divided.
Some saw the actor and singer’s appearance as part of the show’s longtime efforts toward inclusivity. “If I had seen someone like you on TV when I was that age, coming out would have been so much easier and happier,” one person wrote in the comments. Another added: “This 62-year-old grandma loves it! Billy rocks whatever he’s wearing with confidence.”
Others, however, felt differently. After “Sesame Street” announced Porter’s appearance, right-wing news outlet LifeSite News launched a petition calling for the show’s producers to scrap the episode.
“Parents are fed up with the hyper-sexualization of their children, and they expect children’s programming to be a neutral zone,” read the petition, which called Porter a “drag queen” and had more than 9,800 signatures as of Friday afternoon.
The Emmy-, Grammy- and Tony-winning star has yet to respond to the controversy. These days, however, he has little time for backlash. In addition to his forthcoming “Sesame Street” appearance, he has a slew of new projects in the works, including Jordan Peele’s “Twilight Zone” reboot and a musical adaptation of “Cinderella” with Camila Cabello and Idina Menzel.
Porter told Allure magazine earlier this month that he felt “silenced” throughout his adolescence by the “heteronormative construct that masculinity is.”
The star, who made history as the first man to ever be featured on Allure’s cover, went on to explain his now-fearless approach with regard to his career.
“I’m a part of the first generation of gay men, ever, who gets to be out loud and proud in the world,” he said. “My generation is the first. Bitches are scared. And they should be.”