Billy Porter has revealed that he is HIV positive.
The Pose star was first diagnosed in 2007, and kept the news private, not even telling his mother. He's now decided to open up saying he has a responsibility to share his story.
"Having lived through the plague, my question was always, 'Why was I spared? Why am I living?'" he wrote for The Hollywood Reporter.
"Well, I’m living so that I can tell the story. There’s a whole generation that was here, and I stand on their shoulders. I can be who I am in this space, at this time, because of the legacy that they left for me. So it’s time to put my big boy pants on and talk.
"I was the generation that was supposed to know better, and it happened anyway. It was 2007, the worst year of my life."
He continued: "For a long time, everybody who needed to know, knew – except for my mother. 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. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I was the statistic that everybody said I would be.
"I survived so that I could tell the story. That’s what I’m here for."
He added that he used his own experiences for his character, but no one on the show knew his story.
"I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate," he added.
Billy, who married husband Adam Smith in 2017 after meeting in 2009, added he has since shared the news with his mum.
"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,'" he wrote.
"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."
He added: "This is what HIV-positive looks like now. I’m going to die from something else before I die from that. My T-cell levels are twice yours because of this medication.
"I go to the doctor now — as a Black, 51-year-old man, I go to the doctor every three months. That doesn’t happen in my community. We don’t trust doctors. But I go to the doctor, and I know what’s going on in my body.
"I’m the healthiest I’ve been in my entire life. So it’s time to let all that go and tell a different story. There’s no more stigma — let’s be done with that. It’s time.
"I’ve been living it and being in the shame of it for long enough. And I’m sure this will follow me. I’m sure this is going to be the first thing everybody says, 'HIV-positive blah, blah, blah.' OK. Whatever. It’s not the only thing I am.
"I’m so much more than that diagnosis. And if you don’t want to work with me because of my status, you’re not worthy of me."
Pose season three airs on FX in the US. A UK air date has not yet been confirmed.
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