HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 24: Billy Porter attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

If you hadn’t heard of the actor and singer during his time on Pose, than his extravagant red carpet looks at this year’s Golden Globes, Oscar Awards and most recently the Met Gala would have struck a chord. Taking to the biggest events on the style calendar, Billy Porter‘s style vernacular is made up of billowing ball gowns, capes and always, always heavy embellishments. It’s this prowess that serves as the star’s confident facade, but according to a new interview, that has not always been the case.

In years gone by, being of black heritage as well as being flamboyant had made many an outcast; for Porter however, it is the abuse he received at the hands of his stepfather that shaped his upbringing. Speaking with Esquirethe 49-year-old revealed it was also the “best thing” that ever happened to him.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 06: Billy Porter attends The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)

“This is really deep. It’s not something that I’ve spoken about a lot,” he told the publication. “But… the sexual abuse that I received at the hands of my stepfather from the time I was seven until the time I was twelve, weirdly, was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“At seven, at twelve, I could look around and see all of these adults with no capacity to do anything to help me. I knew there’s not an adult around me that knows what the fuck to do. I will do it myself.”

And so the performer did. Four decades later and the Hollywood star has garnered an impressive resumé and with a strong background in Christianity, Porter has become an icon and activist for the LGBTQ+ community as well as women’s rights. His past red carpet looks have always stood as a statement for social issues and most recently, the Pose star arrived at the Tony Awards in a gown featuring a uterus motif.

He told The Hollywood Reporter, “…I thought it was awesome because women’s rights are under attack right now. I’m an advocate for all who are disenfranchised. None of us are free until we’re all free!”