Billy Porter revealed that he has been living with HIV for 14 years during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Porter gave more details during a TV interview with Tamron Hall and said that he was ashamed when he was diagnosed in 2007 because he’s apart of the generation who was “supposed to know better.”
“The shame is debilitating… The shame engulfed me. I had stomach issues for 14 years and nobody could figure out what or why. My stomach just felt like it was always in knots,” he said. “It felt like there was a hand on my heart squeezing every day, all day, every morning … Shame is a destroyer. It destroys everything.”
Hall reveals that Billy Porter called her a few weeks ago and said “I got something else to share that I’ve been holding for 14 years.”
“The [phone] conversation was just as tearful as the interview. He came to grips with how it was all coming out, and he was very emotional. He didn’t want the story to get lost. There was a sense of relief,” an insider told Page Six.
Billy Porter portrays an HIV positive character, Pray, on the hit show Pose, and says their stories are parallel.
The 51-year-old emotionally revealed that his performance on the show wasn’t much of an act.
“That’s what I speak of when I speak of the gift that ‘Pose’ has been for me — the idea of understanding that trauma is not something that you compartmentalize or disassociate from, which I am so good at doing,” he said. “The trauma started so early for me — the only muscle I had until recently was to disassociate and compartmentalize, and keep moving forward.”
He added that “thanks to COVID” and his therapist, he was forced to “sit in it.”
“She said, ‘Billy, you have been able — in action — to manifest a life for yourself, while your mind is still stuck in the trauma. We got to catch your mind up to your actions,’” the actor said. “That is what ‘Pose’ has done for me … It made me sit in it. Sit in it, and go through it, so that I can heal and maybe be a blessing to someone else.”