Best known for his 2019 Emmy Award-winning role as Pray Tell in Pose, a character that is diagnosed as HIV-positive, Billy Porter has revealed that he too is living with HIV, and has been living with HIV for the last 14 years.
In an exclusive interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Porter revealed that he was first diagnosed with HIV in 2007, and ‘has told next to no one, fearing marginalization and retaliation in an industry that hasn’t always been kind to him’.
Thanks to his Pose role, Porter was luckily able to use Pray Tell as his proxy, ‘I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate’, he explained.
‘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 added.
‘HIV-positive, where I come from, growing up in the Pentecostal church with a very religious family, is God’s punishment.’.
Thankfully, Porter’s condition improved over time by seeking professional medical help. As he explained, ‘My T-cell levels are twice yours because of this medication. I go to the doctor now — as 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.’, he concluded.
You can read the full interview over at The Hollywood Reporter’s website.