Billy Porter reveals he’s HIV-positive: ‘I hope this frees me’


Billy Porter revealed he’s HIV-positive in his new cover story for The Hollywood Reporter.

The “Pose” star, 51, said he was diagnosed in June 2007 and 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.”

The Broadway star, who is just an Oscar away from becoming an EGOT winner, called 2007 his worst year, as 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.

“HIV-positive, where I come from, growing up in the Pentecostal church with a very religious family, is God’s punishment.”


Porter, who relocated to Long Island with husband Adam Smith amid the pandemic, credited quarantine with forcing him to face his life’s traumas, including the sexual abuse he endured from ages 7 to 12 at the hands of his stepfather.

“There has never been a moment that I’ve not been in trauma, which is what I’ve discovered this last year,” he said. “And it was my engine for a very long time. My trauma served me, my story has served me, in terms of forward motion.”

The former “Kinky Boots” star credited his HIV-positive character on FX’s “Pose,” Pray Tell, with helping him come to terms with his real-life diagnosis.

“An opportunity to work through the shame [of HIV] and where I have gotten to in this moment,” Porter explained. “And the brilliance of Pray Tell and this opportunity was that I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate.”

Porter revealed he was so “embarrassed and ashamed” by his HIV-positive diagnosis that he concealed it from his mother, who had already faced religious persecution because of her gay son.

“I was the statistic that everybody said I would be. So I’d made a pact with myself that I would let her die before I told her. That’s what I was waiting for, if I’m being honest,” he shared. “When we moved her into the Actors Fund Nursing Home, I was like, ‘She’s not going to be here long, and then I’ll write my book and come out and she won’t have to live with the embarrassment of having an HIV-positive child.’

“That was five years ago. She ain’t going anywhere.”

The “Like a Boss” actor finally shared his truth with his mom this year, and she couldn’t believe he had concealed it from her.

“‘I love you no matter what,’” he said she told him.

“But the truth shall set you free. I feel my heart releasing,” Porter reflected. “It had felt like a hand was holding my heart clenched for years — for years — and it’s all gone. And it couldn’t have happened at a better time.”

Now the “healthiest” he’s ever been, Porter is focusing on the 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.”

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    • You mustn’t laugh at the misfortunes of others. It will come back around to you. Everyone deals with struggles regardless of the path they either choose to or are forced to take. Only God can judge us and we are all accountable to Him in the end. What will your judgement day look like? Ready your own heart for you maker and leave his to him.

      Be blessed!

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