Billy Porter Talks About Being HIV-Positive Since 2007

May 19, 2021 / Posted by:

Twotime Hot Slut of the Month winner (an achievement greater than his Tony, Grammy, and Emmy awards, honestly) Billy Porter has been living with HIV for the past 14 years. But none of us knew about that until today because he’s been keeping it on the shush. Shame and fear kept Billy from publicly talking about it, but the pandemic forced us all into lockdown, which quieted things for Billy and allowed him to deal with the traumas in his life. Billy finally kicked down that bitch known as shame and opened up about his diagnosis to the cast of Pose and even his own mother, something he thought he’d never do.

51-year-old Billy Porter is currently working on his memoirs and filming a Netflix documentary about his life. Billy decided to talk to The Hollywood Reporter about how he went from burying his HIV diagnosis to telling his mother. It started in 2007 which was a shit-wrapped horrible year for Billy, and not just because it’s the year that Bravo wrongly canceled the reality show masterpiece, Hey Paula, after just one season. Billy went through a lot that year including finding out that he has Type 2 diabetes and filing for bankruptcy. And in June of 2007, he was diagnosed with HIV after he went to the doctor to get a butt pimple checked out.

Throughout the years, Billy has told those closest to him, like his husband Adam Smith, but didn’t tell his mother. Billy felt like his mom had already been through enough with being hit with judgemental side-eyes from tricks in her community for having a gay son. And as Billy says, he wasn’t planning to ever tell her, because he didn’t want her to live through the “I told you so’s.” Billy says that his shame was connected to his relationship with his mother and his ex-relationship with the church. But working through shit in trauma therapy during the pandemic made him realize that he had to tell her.

There’s a lot of similarities between Billy and Pray Tell, the character he plays on Pose. Both were raised in religious households. Both could knock a ho down with their devastating fashions. Both are close to their mom. And in the last episode of Pose (SPOILER ALERT), Pray Tell has a hard time telling his mother that he’s HIV-positive.

Playing Pray Tell has been therapeutic for Billy because he’s been able to say everything he wants through that character. Like Pray Tell, he recently decided it was time to tell his mother and made a whole plan. But on the last day of filming for Pose, he said “fuck it” to those plans. Billy called his mom to tell her, and a shit load of weight lifted off of his heart after she told him that she loves him no matter what:

So my sister and I made a plan. We were going to get vaccinated and we were going to go see Mom. We’d get a room and I’d break the news. Then I woke up on the last day of [shooting] Pose; I was writing in my gratitude journal and my mama popped into my head. I was like, “Let me just call her.” Not two minutes into the conversation, she’s like, “What’s wrong?” I said, “Nothing.” She’s like, “Son, please tell me what’s wrong.” So I ripped the Band-Aid off and I told her. She said, “You’ve been carrying this around for 14 years? Don’t ever do this again. I’m your mother, I love you no matter what. And I know I didn’t understand how to do that early on, but it’s been decades now.” And it’s all true. It’s my own shame. Years of trauma makes a human being skittish. But the truth shall set you free. I feel my heart releasing. 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. Every single solitary dream that I ever had is coming true in this moment, all at the same time. I’m getting ready to play the fairy godmother in Cinderella. I have new music coming out. I have a memoir coming out. Pose is out. I’m directing my first film. And I’m trying to be present. I’m trying to be joyful, and one of the effects of trauma is not being able to feel joy.

Billy also told everyone on Pose, but telling his mother was the biggest hurdle and now that she knows and still accepts him, he doesn’t give an ounce of a flea’s turd what anyone else thinks. So if for some reason you decide to tell Billy Porter your feeling on this, prepare to get dismissed with a glittery “Be gone, bitch!” curtain:

I mean, if you’re going to get shut down, you may as well get shut down with an ultra-glamorous version of “That’s all folks!

Pic: Wenn.comGIF: Tenor

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