Photo by David Calmese via vanityfair.com
The HIV/AIDS crisis has made its mark in the last few decades and continues to weave its web. Its story continues with Pose star Billy Porter, who has revealed that he has been living with HIV since 2007 during his interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Porter stated that he had a significant amount of shame surrounding his diagnosis, having grown up in a religious family that went to a Pentecostal church.
The star-studded actor told The Hollywood Reporter that he has been given the “opportunity to work through the shame [of HIV] and where I have gotten to in this moment” using his character Pray Tell on FX series Pose. The series, set in 1980s/1990s New York City, highlights the ballroom scene in the midst of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Porter’s character lives with their HIV diagnosis starting within the first season, allowing for Porter to “say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate.”
The film and performance industry is already a cut-throat environment, so telling the world that he is HIV-positive was an overbearing weight on his shoulders. “It would just be another way for people to discriminate against me in an already discriminatory profession,” said Porter. Being one Oscar award away from joining the exclusive EGOT club, the Broadway star did not have the certainty to live his life to the fullest if the wrong people knew about his diagnosis. The hardest person to tell, he stated, was his mother. But when the actor finally found the words to tell his mother after filming for the final season of Pose, all she had to show was support.
“You’ve been carrying this around for 14 years?” said Porter’s mother, "Don’t ever do this again. I’m your mother, I love you no matter what.”
You can watch Billy Porter live honestly on-screen in Pose on FX on Sundays at 10 p.m. EST.