NMAC STANDS WITH BILLY PORTER
Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor and singer Billy Porter recently disclosed that he has been HIV positive for the past 14 years having been diagnosed in June of 2007. The uber-talented and ultra-stylish star of “Pose” appeared on the “Tamron Hall” show on Friday in a powerful interview that addressed the issues of the long-term trauma of keeping his diagnosis secret.
Porter, the first openly gay man to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series talked candidly about being a gay black man growing in a Pittsburgh Pentacostal religious community and the stigmas he suffered with as a Black homosexual man and his HIV status.
“The shame engulfed me. I had stomach issues for 14 years and nobody could figure out what or why. You know, my stomach just felt like it was always in knots … it felt like there was a hand on my heart, squeezing every day, all day. Every morning, I would wake up with dread, and try to find my way to work through it. Shame is a destroyer. It destroys everything,” Porter told Hall.
In an emotional retelling of filming a recent episode of the hit show “Pose” where his character Praytell succumbs to the disease, Porter said he was so moved by the experience that he was compelled to tell his real-life drama with the diagnosis and the disease.
” … I went to the Callen-Lorde LGBTQ clinic, and the man at the desk said, ‘Well, do you want to get an HIV test?’ And it was like, ‘oh, yeah, yeah, it’s about six months – I do it every six months. Yes, of course.’ And so I got the test. And the … after about 20 minutes … came out with that look. I knew exactly what he was about to say. I responded, just as I had, just as I did in season one, episode four of ‘Pose’ when they tell Pray Tell,” shared the Hollywood Walk of Fame inductee
In a statement from National Minority AIDS Council executive director Paul Kawata said this of Porter’s disclosure of his HIV status:
“NMAC applauds Billy Porter on his disclosure of his HIV status. At NMAC, we know how much stigma around HIV cripples our ability to end the epidemic. It’s what keeps people from talking with their partners about HIV. It’s what keeps people from protecting themselves because they don’t feel worthy. It’s what keeps people away from doctors, clinics, and testing sites. And it perpetuates feelings of shame and deepens depression and poor self-esteem. As an award-winning actor, the lead of a hit TV show, and a gay man of color, Billy Porter’s disclosure can have a big impact on HIV stigma, particularly in communities of color where it remains a major obstacle.
“We are so happy that this disclosure is bringing him a sense of relief and release of pain and trauma. Billy is an amazing actor, singer, dancer, and now role model for people of color living with or affected by HIV. We look forward to having him as a partner in the fight against HIV.”
NMAC leads with race to urgently fight for health equity and racial justice to end the HIV epidemic in America. Since 1987, NMAC has advanced our mission through a variety of programs and services, including: a public policy education program, national and regional training conferences, a treatment and research program, numerous electronic and print materials, and a website: www.nmac.org. NMAC also serves as an association of AIDS service organizations, providing valuable information to community-based organizations, hospitals, clinics, and other groups assisting individuals and families affected by the HIV epidemic.