Billy Porter announces he is HIV positive as he breaks 14-year silence.

by Helvine Achieng
May 20, 2021

American actor, singer and style icon Billy Porter has revealed that he is HIV positive as he has opened up about hiding his condition for 14 years from co-stars out of "shame".

"The truth is the healing. And I hope this frees me. I hope this frees me so that I can experience real, unadulterated joy, so that I can experience peace, so that I can experience intimacy, so that I can have sex without shame. This is for me," he told The Hollywood Reporter.

In the intimate interview, Billy admits he felt that he was part of the "generation that was supposed to know better" but that it "happened anyway".

"It was 2007, the worst year of my life," he said. "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. HIV-positive, where I come from, growing up in the Pentecostal church with a very religious family, is God's punishment."

The Broadway star and Emmy winner, 51, has bravely spoken about his "truth" for the first time since he was diagnosed in 2007.Billy stated that he had been visiting a clinic to get a pimple to be removed and was offered an HIV test at the time. As he got tested every six months, Billy decided to get one anyway but he was left in a state of shock when the doctor confirmed his HIV diagnosis.

"For a long time, everybody who needed to know, knew — except for my mother," he said. "I was trying to have a life and a career, and I wasn't certain I could if the wrong people knew. It would just be another way for people to discriminate against me in an already discriminatory profession."

However, he said that the coronavirus pandemic has given him the time to "stop and reflect and deal with the trauma" in his life.

"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."

"It's time to grow up and move on because shame is destructive — and if not dealt with, it can destroy everything in its path."