Growing up in East Grinstead in the 90s, Aaron Porter couldn’t fit in even if he’d wanted to. “I obviously knew that I was different from everyone else” he states, “But being different was never much of an issue to me.”
Aaron was raised solely by his mum, still one of his closest friends and biggest influences. Together they’d sing along to Toni Braxton and Whitney Houston, unwittingly developing his passion for music. As he grew older he became more eager to perform, but with little money for classes or training he searched local youth programs for opportunities to exercise his creativity.
Discovering that The BRIT School was free, he applied for a place to do A Levels and was accepted to study musical theatre. “I thought it was going to be the most creative thing I could do because I do love to dance and act as well” he says. “So why not do all three in one?”
After school he got a place at Bird College studying dance, but left early to go straight into the West End for a brief stint. “I liked the first month of learning the material and doing the shows” he explains, “But I was on stage doing something I didn’t believe in so it felt more painful to me than just not being on stage at all. I wasn’t getting anything from it. I need to believe in what I’m giving out.”
Aaron’s songs are all based around his life and the things he has learnt to deal with from heartbreak to sexuality to his internal struggle with showing who he really is and the effects of toxic masculinity.
When Aaron came out he experienced no dilemma over being gay, instead he agonised over the relationships he knew he’d have to have with other men. “I think that’s probably why it took me a while to figure it out” he muses. “Because I didn’t really want to realise that at some point I’d have to trust men. My mum had been through things with men that I would never want to go through, and because I saw all that it made me just not trust them.”
Having grown up with a close bond between his mum and his younger sister, Aaron’s struggle was with the outer world. “I’m so proud of my mum and my sister, our relationship gave me the strength to be confident in who I am. And I did build up this barrier towards men. It was only when I started to hang around loads of gay men that I found another family.”
Releasing his music into the world, Aaron is involved in every facet, from the artwork, to finding the right producer, to choreographing his routines. “It’s written from the heart and hopefully I can be a role model for people that have also felt uncomfortable about being themselves, especially in regards to being a gay black man. I think often we’re not allowed to really show much emotion or be very feminine, so I’m just going to go full out as me and hope people get on board and it helps someone.”
Welcome to the world of Aaron Porter, where different is better.