The award-winning "Pose" star told next to no one about his health status in fear of being dismissed, judged, and ridiculed.
It is never easy discussing personal issues for anyone, but Billy Porter has taken a giant leap of faith. The Grammy, Tony, and Emmy award-winning actor has recently been celebrated for his role as HIV-positive Pray Tell on the megahit series Pose, but his career has spanned for decades from Broadway stages to movie sets. Porter has often sat down for interviews where he's shared bits about his life, upbringing, and artistic endeavors, but it was his chat with The Hollywood Reporter that has made headlines on Wednesday (May 18).
For nearly 15 years, Porter has told almost no one that he's been living with HIV, a diagnosis he received back in 2007.
“In June of that year, I was diagnosed HIV-positive," said Porter. Because his Pose character shares his health issues, Porter found comfort in communicating through a work of fiction. Additionally, he told the publication that no one on set or in production was aware of his status. “I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate."
"The shame of that time compounded with the shame that had already [accumulated] in my life silenced me," said Porter of learning of his diagnosis in 2007. "I have lived with that shame in 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 detailed his journey poetically for The Hollywood Reporter, mentioning telling his mother and reconciling any feelings he had within himself about the relationship with his church. Porter got married to someone who isn't positive and is glad that at this stage of his life, he's being taken seriously as a performer, more so than he ever has in his career.
"This is for me. I’m doing this for me. I have too much sh*t to do, and I don’t have any fear about it anymore. I told my mother — that was the hurdle for me. I don’t care what anyone has to say. You’re either with me or simply move out of the way." Check out a few shots from his cover feature below.