The 'Pose' actor breaks his silence and courageously opened up about his struggle and journey as a person living with HIV.
Billy Porter bravely opens up about his struggle and journey with HIV for 14 years now.
The Emmy-winning star of 'Pose' was diagnosed HIV- positive in 2007, a year that he describes as the "worst year" of his 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," the actor told The Hollywood Reporter.
Porter had a hard time accepting his condition, mostly due to his religious upbringing and years of trauma.
"HIV-positive, where I come from, growing up in the Pentecostal church with a very religious family, is God’s punishment."
In Porter's case, everything began with a pimple on his bottom that just wouldn't go away. It became larger and harder until it started to get painful.
He finally decided to see a doctor, and the front desk personnel of the clinic asked if he would like to get tested for HIV too. He agreed. When the results arrived, Porter's world came crashing down.
Porter had the hardest time telling his mom about his condition. She has already been persecuted a lot by her religious community for having a queer son, and Porter wanted to spare her from hearing their "I told you so's."
"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 fuck up."
Aside from taking medication, Porter also had therapy to begin his healing process. He addressed his traumas, such as being sexually abused by his stepfather for five years (it started when he was 7 and lasted till he was 12) and his coming out at 16 amid the AIDS crisis.
On his final day of shooting 'Pose,' Porter finally summoned the courage to tell his mom his deepest secret. He received nothing but love and support from 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.”
Later that day, Porter decided to tell the 'Pose' cast and crew about his condition, too. "The truth is the healing," Billy continued. "I told my mother — that was the hurdle for me. I don’t care what anyone has to say. You’re either with me or simply move out of the way."
Following his revelation, Billy has received a lot of love and support from people around the world. Fans thanked Porter for helping break the stigma around HIV. They see him as an inspiration.
"Billy Porter revealing he’s been HIV positive for 14 years is not only courageous but powerful— it will undoubtedly do so much for the destigmatization of people living with HIV," one person tweeted.
Billy Porter revealing he’s been HIV positive for 14 years is not only courageous, but powerful— it will undoubtedly do so much for the destigmatization of people living with HIV.— Olayemi Olurin (@msolurin) May 19, 2021
Meanwhile, another fan said: "Billy Porter really took us one step closer into breaking the stigma of HIV,"
billy porter coming out as hiv positive after 14 years of being scared and ashamed to finally start speaking truths and to serve as an inspiration to the younger generation— Sef (@sefloseo) May 19, 2021
more reasons to love this fasyown and brave human bean 🖤