Billy Porter reveals that he’s been living with HIV for 14 years

Billy Porter reveals that he’s been living with HIV for 14 years

Pose star Billy Porter has revealed he has been living with HIV for the past 14 years.

The actor was diagnosed in 2007 and admitted that he had since “lived with that shame in silence.”

Making it public would also have been “another way for people to discriminate against me in an already discriminatory profession,” he explained.

But speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, he said: “There’s no more stigma – let’s be done with that. It’s time.”

Porter made his name on Broadway, winning a Tony Award for his role in the musical, Kinky Boots, in 2013. He won an Emmy in 2019 for playing Pray Tell, an MC on the 1980s New York ballroom scene, in Ryan Murphy’s acclaimed TV drama, Pose, becoming the first Black gay actor to take home the award. He earned Golden Globes nominations for best TV drama actor in both 2019 and 2020.

“I was the generation that was supposed to know better, and it happened anyway,” he said of contracting HIV. “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.”

He said he told “everybody who needed to know,” explaining: “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.”

He said he was making it public now because “it’s time to grow up and move on because shame is destructive – and if not dealt with, it can destroy everything in its path.”

He did not even tell his mother until recently, he said. “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.”

He and his sister made a plan to visit her to break the news, but he decided to do so over the phone on the last day of filming Pose.

“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,’” he recounted. “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. And I know I didn’t understand how to do that early on, but it’s been decades now.’

“And it’s all true. It’s my own shame. Years of trauma makes a human being skittish. But the truth shall set you free. I feel my heart releasing.”

Art imitated life on this week’s episode of Pose, titled ‘Take Me To Church’, where Porter’s character, Pray Tell, upon learning the direction his diagnosis as an HIV patient has taken, also has to make the journey back home to work on old wounds with a Christian mother who rejected him so they can heal from them.

Modern treatments mean people can live long and healthy lives with HIV. “This is what HIV-positive looks like now,” Porter said. “I’m going to die from something else before I die from that. My T-cell levels are twice yours because of this medication.”

Previous Two KDians In Urgent Need For Temporary Accommodation
Next The Minority Report on Being Gay and Christian

About author

You might also like

Opinion Pieces 11 Comments

Identity Politics and the fury against Tennis star Martina Navratilova for saying transwomen shouldn’t be able to compete as women

Martina Navratilova is one of the greatest woman tennis players of all time. During her career, she won an astounding 59 Grand Slam titles. She was also one of the first

The Happenings 5 Comments

Egypt Set to Enact One of the World’s Most Extreme Anti-LGBTQ Laws

Egypt is set to enact one of the world’s most sweeping and extreme pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation following a harsh crackdown on the local queer community. On Wednesday, member of

The Happenings 9 Comments

‘If You Think I’m Gay, Send Your Girlfriend Over to My House.’ Shemar Moore on those gay rumors

“I just think it’s all silly. If you’re gay, you’re gay. I’m not, and I know that and I’m very comfortable with who I am and I love women. I’ve

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

You can be first to comment this post!

Leave a Reply