Sesame Street said Thursday that Emmy Award-winning actor Billy Porter will appear in an upcoming episode of the popular series while – apparently – wearing a dress.
Sesame Street posted photos of Porter on social media with celebratory taglines.
“An iconic day with an iconic person. Thanks for visiting Sesame Street, @theebillyporter! #Season51,” the series’ official Twitter account said in a message.
“Billy Porter bringing those fierce vibes to Sesame Street,” the series’ official Facebook page said in a post.
The appearance by Porter, who is gay, likely would have gone unnoticed by most if not for the pictures accompanying the social media messages. Sesame Street’s Twitter and Facebook accounts each showed Porter wearing his famous tuxedo dress, or gown, on set with the characters.
Porter – an actor and Broadway performer – is known for wearing women’s clothes.
Sesame Street did not disclose whether his choice of clothes is discussed on the show.
The posts sparked a social media debate.
“Soooo amazing!!!!!!!! Thank you, Billy Porter!! 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 on Facebook.
“This 62-year-old grandma loves it! Billy rocks whatever he's wearing with confidence,” another person wrote.
Others, though, said Porter should have worn something else.
“Instead of confusing children can't you just continue to teach them how to read, play and count?” one person wrote. “My children will no longer be watching your show. 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.’ Political agendas need to be kept to the family home.”
Another person wrote, “If people want to do this on their own, that’s their decision, but to parade this in front of the youngest of kids is WRONG. My family will no longer be watching Sesame Street.”
Still another person wrote, “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 ok to be masculine. He won’t know what he’s supposed to be, do, or dress…”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Frazer Harrison/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.