Billy Porter is bravely sharing his truth. For, in a new interview, he revealed that he is HIV-positive.
Full story below…
In the candid feature with The Hollywood Reporter, the Emmy-winning ‘Pose’ actor lifts the lid on a 14-year-old diagnosis he kept from family, friends, and colleagues.
Speaking candidly, he described 2007 as his “valley period.” A year in which he was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, filed for bankruptcy and discovered he was HIV-positive.
An excerpt from his sit-down read:
“I was the generation that was supposed to know better, and it happened anyway. It was 2007, the worst year of my life. I was on the precipice of obscurity for about a decade or so, but 2007 was the worst of it. By February, I had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. By March, I signed bankruptcy papers. And by June, I was diagnosed HIV-positive. The shame of that time compounded with the shame that had already [accumulated] in my life silenced me, and I have lived with that shame in silence for 14 years. HIV-positive, where I come from, growing up in the Pentecostal church with a very religious family, is God’s punishment.”
Describing how he found out about his status, the 51-year-on shared:
“It was a fluke. I had a pimple on my butt, and it got larger and larger and harder and harder, and then it started to hurt. One day I was like, “I’ve got to get this taken care of,” so I went to the Callen-Lorde clinic and the queen at the front desk was like, “You want an HIV test? They only $10.” I said, “Yeah, yeah, it’s time.” I got tested every six months, like you were supposed to. So I went in, got the pimple drained and got tested, and then the doctor came back and looked at me. I was like, “What?” He sat down, and I was like, “No. Nooo.” And he said, “Your test came back positive.””
On His Rationale For Speaking Up:
“For a long time, everybody who needed to know, knew — except for my mother. I was trying to have a life and a career, and I wasn’t certain I could if the wrong people knew. It would just be another way for people to discriminate against me in an already discriminatory profession. So I tried to think about it as little as I could. I tried to block it out. But quarantine has taught me a lot. Everybody was required to sit down and shut the f*ck up.”
On Playing HIV-Positive Character Pray Tell On ‘Pose’:
“Then came Pose. An opportunity to work through the shame [of HIV] and where I have gotten to in this moment. And the brilliance of Pray Tell and this opportunity was that I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate”
On Finally Telling His Mom:
“My mother had been through so much already, so much persecution by her religious community because of my queerness, that I just didn’t want her to have to live through their “I told you so’s.” I didn’t want to put her through that. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I was the statistic that everybody said I would be. So I’d made a pact with myself that I would let her die before I told her. That’s what I was waiting for, if I’m being honest. When we moved her into the Actors Fund Nursing Home, I was like, “She’s not going to be here long, and then I’ll write my book and come out and she won’t have to live with the embarrassment of having an HIV-positive child.” That was five years ago. She ain’t going anywhere.
I was writing in my gratitude journal and my mama popped into my head. I was like, “Let me just call her.” Not two minutes into the conversation, she’s like, “What’s wrong?” I said, “Nothing.” She’s like, “Son, please tell me what’s wrong.” So I ripped the Band-Aid off and I told her. She said, “You’ve been carrying this around for 14 years? Don’t ever do this again. I’m your mother, I love you no matter what.”
On His Outlook Now:
“Well, I’m living so that I can tell the story. There’s a whole generation that was here, and I stand on their shoulders. I can be who I am in this space, at this time, because of the legacy that they left for me. So it’s time to put my big boy pants on and talk.
I survived so that I could tell the story. That’s what I’m here for. I’m the vessel.”
We applaud his bravery and know that it’ll help so many on their journeys.