Billy Porter Reveals His HIV-Positive Status, Says He Was Diagnosed 14 Years Ago
For the first time in 14 years, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award-winning star Billy Porter has broken his silence about his HIV-positive status.
In an interview with Lacey Rose, Billy Porter talked about the shame he felt about his diagnosis. His fear of being marginalized and ostracized in an industry he admits “hasn’t always been kind to him,” led him to withhold his status from family, friends, castmates, and collaborators.
“For a long time, everybody who needed to know, knew-except my mother. I was trying to have a life and 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.”
Billy Porter shared he’s been using his role as Pray Tell on the Peabody Award-winning series ‘Pose’ as his proxy.
“I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate.”
He also revealed that no one involved in the taping of the show had any indication he was personally drawing from his life’s story.
In the candid interview, Billy Porter allowed his vulnerability to lead and walked us through what he experienced throughout his journey.
“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. My 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,and I have lived with that shame and 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.”
Porter admitted he’s been receiving therapy off-and-on for 26 years. Within the last year, he began real trauma therapy to unpack and heal from past traumatic experiences.
“I started peeling back all the layers: having been sent to a psychologist at age five because I came out of the womb a bog 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.”
Through the peaks and valleys of his personal and professional experiences, Porter has arrived and is coming for everything he deserves.
“Every single solitary dream that I ever had is coming true in this moment, all at the same time. I’m getting ready to play the fairy godmother in Cinderella. I have new music coming out. I have a memoir coming out. Pose is out. I’m directing my first film, and I’m trying to be present. I’m trying to be joyful.”
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