Billy Porter reveals he’s been HIV positive for 14 years: ‘I was left here to tell this story’
Actor and singer Billy Porter revealed that he’s been living with a positive HIV diagnosis for the last 14 years in an essay for The Hollywood Reporter.
In a deeply personal 2,400-word essay, Porter says that his HIV was first detected in June 2007, after going to have a blemish looked at.
“For a long time, everybody who needed to know, knew — except for my mother,” he wrote. “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.”
Over the past year, Porter said, “I started real trauma therapy to begin the process of healing. I started peeling back all these layers: having been sent to a psychologist at age 5 because I came out of the womb a big old queen; being sexually abused by my stepfather from the time I was 7 to the time I was 12; coming out at 16 in the middle of the AIDS crisis.”
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Doing so gave him the courage to reveal his diagnosis to his mother, followed by the cast and crew of FX’s Pose — all on the last day of shooting the acclaimed drama’s third and final season.
“Years of trauma makes a human being skittish,” he shared. “But the truth shall set you free.”
“[A]s a Black person, particularly a Black man on this planet, you have to be perfect or you will get killed,” he continued. “But look at me. Yes, I am the statistic, but I’ve transcended it. This is what HIV-positive looks like now. I’m going to die from something else before I die from that. My T-cell levels are twice yours because of this medication. [A]s a Black, 51-year-old man, I go to the doctor every three months. That doesn’t happen in my community. We don’t trust doctors. But I go to the doctor, and I know what’s going on in my body. I’m the healthiest I’ve been in my entire life. So it’s time to let all that go and tell a different story. There’s no more stigma — let’s be done with that. It’s time… I’m so much more than that diagnosis. And if you don’t want to work with me because of my status, you’re not worthy of me.”
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