Billy Porter has been living with HIV for 14 years. The Pose star made the revelation in his cover story for The Hollywood Reporter.
“I had a pimple on my butt, and it got larger and larger and harder and harder, and then it started to hurt. One day I was like, “I’ve got to get this taken care of,” so I went to the Callen-Lorde clinic and the queen at the front desk was like, “You want an HIV test? They only $10.” I said, “Yeah, yeah, it’s time.” I got tested every six months, like you were supposed to. So I went in, got the pimple drained and got tested, and then the doctor came back and looked at me. I was like, “What?” He sat down, and I was like, “No. Nooo.” And he said, “Your test came back positive.”
After his diagnosis in June 2007, he kept it a secret for years from mostly everyone, including his mother.
“I was trying to have a life and a career, and I wasn’t certain I could if the wrong people knew,” Porter said. “It would just be another way for people to discriminate against me in an already discriminatory profession.”
He added; “HIV-positive, where I come from, growing up in the Pentecostal church with a very religious family, is God’s punishment.”
Describing that year as his worst year, The Broadway star said he already had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and signed bankruptcy papers.
“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,” he said.
But now, Porter says he’s at the healthiest he’s ever been, and is focusing on his future.
“So it’s time to let all that go and tell a different story,” he said. “There’s no more stigma — let’s be done with that. It’s time. I’ve been living it and being in the shame of it for long enough.”