Out actor Billy Porter has revealed
that he's HIV-positive.
Porter, 51, discussed his HIV status in
a cover story for The Hollywood Reporter.
In an episode of The Tamron Hall
Show, which aired Wednesday, Porter called 2007 “one of the
worst years of my life,” explaining that he was diagnosed with type
2 diabetes, filed bankruptcy, and learned he had contracted HIV in
the first six months of 2007.
Porter said that the “shame”
“Every morning, I would wake up with
dread, and try to find my way to work though it. Shame is a
destroyer. It destroys everything,” he said.
Porter is best known for playing Pray
Tell, who is HIV-positive, in the FX drama Pose. Now in its
third and final season, Pose takes place in New York City at
the height of the AIDS crisis.
Porter also appeared to reveal that his
character dies in the final season, which airs its finale on June 6.
“Gay men of a certain age,” Porter
told Hall. “I would say those who are mid to late 40s on up, who
survived the plague, I often wondered in the survivor’s guilt mode
of what comes with that, for not just me, but for many. Why did I
survive? You know, like, what’s the point? Because there’s
something in the survival that is greater than me. And then Pose
happened and I said, okay God, universe, she, them, they, whatever we
call the force. I understand because I was left here to tell the
story to remind the world that we were here. We’ve always been
here. We’re still here and we’re not ever going anywhere. That’s
powerful and in this space, and in this moment, playing Pray Tell on
television, playing a character whose life parallels mine. He missed
the antiretroviral drugs by one year. Pray Tell missed them and
passed on, but Billy didn’t. And look at God. Look at me, the God
that’s in me and I say God, because we have to start speaking in
the right terms. The first thing that’s taken away from us, as
LGBTQ people from everybody is our spirituality is God. God hates
fags. No, he doesn’t. Stop it. I can’t do it, and I won’t do it
Porter said that he only recently told
his mother that he's HIV-positive. She responded that her only
concern was for his health and that she loves him.
Producer Ryan Murphy, who created Pose
with Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals, posted an “ode of
appreciation” to Porter on Instagram, thanking him for being the
“the light that shows the way.”
“Today is a big day for him, and I
think for so many others who have ever been afraid to be themselves
because of the societal judgement that can be so harsh for those in
our community all over the world,” Murphy wrote.