is speaking out for the first time about his HIV
diagnosis as he bids farewell to the role that made him a household name.
” star graces the cover of The Hollywood
Reporter's May 19 issue, and in the accompanying interview, he reveals he tested positive for HIV 14 years ago, but chose not to disclose the information publicly at the time because he feared it would be used to "discriminate against me in an already discriminatory profession."
“The shame of that time, combined with the shame that had already [accumulated] in my life, silenced me, and I have lived with that shame in silence for 14 years,” said Porter, who is gay. “HIV-positive, where I come from, growing up in the Pentecostal church with a very religious family, is God’s punishment,” Porter said.
In a new exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Billy Porter discusses his HIV-positive diagnosis. #THRNews pic.twitter.com/6Z5uAIiLdq — The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 19, 2021
The actor and singer went on to say that his diabetes diagnosis came at a difficult time in his personal and professional life, citing 2007 as the year he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and declared bankruptcy.
Porter's fortunes began to improve in 2013, when he won a Tony Award for his performance as drag queen Lola in Broadway's "Kinky Boots." The musical was a critical and commercial smash, as well as an artistic catalyst for its star, who joined Ryan Murphy's "Pose" cast five years later.
Despite the fact that “everyone who needed to know” was aware of Porter’s diagnosis, he planned to keep it a secret from the media
and his mother. “I was trying to have a life and a career, and I wasn’t certain I could if the wrong people
knew,” he explained.
Over time, Porter came to see his HIV-positive “Pose” character as a “surrogate” for his own emotions. Distancing himself from his usual creative outlets in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic
, he decided the time had come to live his truth. He told his mother about his HIV status shortly before his Hollywood Reporter interview, which took place on Porter’s final day of shooting
on the third and final seaso
“I hope this frees me so that I can experience real, unadulterated joy, peace, intimacy, and sex without shame. This is for me... I told my mother — that was the hurdle for me. I don’t care what anyone says. You’re either with me or simply move out of the way.”