Words: Will Stroude
As artists like MNEK, Olly Alexander and Sam Smith blaze a trail for LGBTQ pop stars across the globe, another exciting British talent looks set to join their ranks over the the coming months.
Since the release of his debut single 'BOY' last year, Aaron Porter has fast been making a name for himself with his fearless brand of stereotype-smashing R&B-pop - but the BRIT School graduate's art runs deeper than just banging melodies and flawless moves.
"As a young, gay black man, I never had a role model who represented this."
Aaron Porter, shot by Chris Almeida for the Attitude Body Issue
The 27-year-old, who grew up in the small Sussex town of East Grinstead, continues: "It is definitely changing but we gay black men often find ourselves in the strange situation of suffering from homophobia within the black community, then systemic racism from the white gays.
"We’re often fetishised, too. I’ve also been told a few times: 'I don’t usually like black guys, but I think you’re well fit', which just promotes the Westernised perception of beauty — leaving us with an internalised feeling of not being good enough."
On first listen, Aaron's captivating debut 'BOY' might sound like standard pop fare about finding love and lust on the dancefloor, but in fact the soulful track sees him imploring himself to shed the armour of performative masculinity that so many of us have been conditioned to wear.
"I was having an internal fight one night over what to wear to a club that had a 'masc' situation going on," Aaron says of the inspiration behind the track.
"If I gave in and wore masculine get-up, I would be more likely to pull. But deep down I knew that that wasn’t what I wanted to wear.
"‘BOY’ is about me being my complete self, not giving into social stigmas or gender conformities.
"In this case, I’m talking to the boy in me who every now and then still compromises his expression to be more attractive — or less offensive — to the people around him."
He adds: "I’ve had a crazy amount of support from people who are thankful to see someone who’s unafraid to use their masculinity and femininity."
Read the full interview with Aaron Porter in the Attitude Body Issue, out now.