Billy Porter was diagnosed with HIV 14 years ago.
The “Pose” star has kept it a secret for over a decade because of the shame he felt, but he’s ready to speak out about his diagnosis in an effort to support others going through the same thing.
“I have to start in 2007. In June of that year I was diagnosed with HIV,” he said.
The 51-year-old actor admits that it has been difficult “to live with this shame in silence” over the past 14 years.
“After experiencing the plague, my question was always, ‘Why was I spared? Why do I live? Well, I live so I can tell the story. There’s a whole generation that’s been here, and I’m standing on their shoulders. I can be who I am in this space, right now, thanks to the legacy they left me. So it’s time to put on my big boy pants and talk. 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 verge of darkness for about a decade, but 2007 was the worst. In February, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In March, I signed bankruptcy papers. And in June, I was diagnosed with HIV. The shame of that time has worsened with the shame that already had [accumulated] in my life silenced me, and I lived with this shame in silence for 14 years, ”he said.
Porter insists he’s “much more” than his diagnosis, and if someone doesn’t want to work with him in the future because of it, he insists he’s not ” worthy “of him.
Talk to Hollywood journalist magazine, he shared, “There is no more stigma, let’s get it over with. It’s time. I have been living it and have been ashamed of it for quite a long time.
“And I’m sure it will follow me. I’m sure this will be the first thing everyone says, “HIV positive blah, blah, blah. OKAY. No matter. It’s not the only thing that I am. I am so much more than this diagnosis. And if you don’t want to work with me because of my status, you’re not worthy of me.