• GQ Magazine UK: Billy Porter on the Actors Fund of America when he found out he was HIV positive: “They showed up for me and saved my life. I’m so grateful that there was some place for me to go where I was not shamed but instead lifted up and supported so I could get back on my feet. And now look at what has happened, all because someone cared enough to help.” Continue reading “News Round-Up: October 8, 2021”
After a deeply moving episode of the acclaimed FX series Pose on Sunday which drew in part from his own personal life story, Grammy/Emmy Award winner Billy Porter has come out as HIV+ today in a candid and revealing interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
I was the generation that was supposed to know better, and it happened anyway. It was 2007, the worst year of my life. I was on the precipice of obscurity for about a decade or so, but 2007 was the worst of it. By February, I had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. By March, I signed bankruptcy papers.
And by June, I was diagnosed HIV-positive. 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 51-year-old actor also shares how Pose changed the equation for him:
Then came Pose. An opportunity to work through the shame [of HIV] and where I have gotten to in this moment. And the brilliance of Pray Tell and this opportunity was that I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate. My compartmentalizing and disassociation muscles are very, very strong, so I had no idea I was being traumatized or triggered. I was just happy that somebody was finally taking me seriously as an actor.
Porter had made a pact that he wouldn’t tell his mother because he felt she’d already gone through so much due to his ‘queerness.’ But on the last day of shooting his scenes for Pose, he had an epiphany.
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.
While Pose may be coming to an end, the future is full of new adventures for Billy.
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.
I celebrate Billy’s inspiring and uplifting journey to his truth, and his sharing it with us. Please read the full article (and watch the video interview) at The Hollywood Reporter.
DaShawn Usher, Associate Director – Communities of Color for GLAAD, issued a statement on Billy’s announcement:
“The tremendous levels of stigma facing people living with HIV today can only be broken by icons like Billy Porter showing the world that HIV is not at all a barrier to a healthy and successful life. People living with HIV today, when on effective treatment, lead long and healthy lives and cannot transmit HIV, plus medications like PrEP protect people who do not have HIV from contracting HIV, but these leaps in HIV prevention and treatment have largely been invisible in the news and entertainment industries.”
“When the groundbreaking show Pose goes off air in a few weeks, there will be zero television characters living with HIV. That is truly unacceptable when 1.2 million Americans and about 38 million people globally are living with HIV. Billy’s powerful interview needs to be a wake-up call for media and the general public that it’s time to end the stigma that people living with HIV face and to educate each other about HIV prevention and treatment.”
The study found those already living with HIV experienced poorer COVID-related outcomes relative to persons living without diagnosed HIV.
A previous HIV diagnosis was associated with higher rates of severe disease requiring hospitalization, and hospitalization risk increased with progression of HIV disease stage.
A total of 2988 persons living with diagnosed HIV received a diagnosis of COVID-19.
Of these persons living with diagnosed HIV, 896 were hospitalized and 207 died in the hospital through June 15, 2020.
After standardization, persons living with diagnosed HIV and persons living without diagnosed HIV had similar diagnosis rates, but persons living with diagnosed HIV were hospitalized more than persons living without diagnosed HIV.
A Navy veteran living in South Carolina has filed a lawsuit against the Veterans Administration claiming he tested positive for HIV over 20 years ago and his doctors never informed him of the diagnosis.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court this week, alleges the medical staff at the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA center in Columbia, South Carolina, failed to tell him an HIV test taken in 1995 came back positive. If true, the failure allowed the virus to progress for 20 years.
The veteran is referred to as “John Doe” in the filing to protect his medical privacy.
According to the local Columbia newspaper The State, the lawsuit reads, “The VA had actual knowledge beginning in November 1995 that Mr. Doe was HIV positive and the standard of care required he be informed of the positive test and proper treatment begin in 1995.”
“In clear contravention of the standard of care, Mr. Doe was not informed of the positive HIV test until decades later,” continues the filing.
The patient’s medical records reportedly mention his HIV diagnosis in subsequent visits but there’s no apparent record of the patient being informed he was HIV-positive.
‘Doe’ only learned of his status while seeing a non-VA physician who mentioned the diagnosis in passing during a December 2015 examination.
The doctor wrote in his notes, “I looked at the patient and ask (sic) him who was his infectious disease doctor, and patient states (he) did not have one and (I) ask (sic) him if he knew that his HIV test was positive, and he stated (he) never was told it was positive.”
According to reports, the veteran didn’t begin receiving antiretroviral treatment until he was admitted to a non-VA hospital in New York in 2018 at which point he had developed full-blown AIDS.
The lawsuit, which requests an unspecified amount for punitive damages, claims the man’s health and immune system are permanently affected.
“The treatment he’s getting now is effective, but he’s had essentially 25 years of wear and tear for having no treatment,” said his lawyer, Chad McGowan, told Navy Times.
“He feels extremely guilty about the girlfriends he’s had over the last 25 years because he didn’t know,” McGowan added.
Had ‘Doe’ had been informed of his status in a timely manner, McGowan says his client “would not have suffered the losses he has suffered, and will continue to suffer in the future, and more likely than not, he would not have developed AIDS.”
The medical director of the Dorn VA facility declined to comment due to the pending litigation.
• Oregon Live: A gay man recently became angry with his mother when she didn’t know how to respond when he introduced his new boyfriend who is HIV-positive. She fears if they stay together and have children the new boo might infect the future/possible kids. She wrote to the popular column ‘Ask Amy’ for advice.
• CBS Detroit: A Wisconsin woman who has taken hydroxychloroquine for 19 years to treat lupus has tested positive for COVID-19. The woman, a self-described Trump supporter, says she only left her home to go the grocery store. She told CBS News she thought she would be safe because of what Donald Trump has said about the drug.
• HBO: From Academy Award-nominated director David France comes Welcome to Chechnya, a powerful and eye-opening documentary about a group of activists risking their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive and closed Russian republic of Chechnya.
• Politico: More than 40,000 National Guard members currently helping states during the coronavirus health threat will face a “hard stop” on their deployments on June 24 — just one day shy of many members becoming eligible for key federal benefits like education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI bill and/or early retirement.
• Bloomberg News: Researchers are finding evidence that patients who test positive for the coronavirus after recovering aren’t capable of transmitting the infection, and could have the antibodies that prevent them from falling sick again.
• AZ Central: Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) dropped four percentage points in a month trailing Democrat Mark Kelly by 13 points, according to the latest tracking poll by OH Predictive Insights. The same poll in April favored Kelly 51% to McSally’s 42%, and now in May, it’s 51%-38%. The poll shows independents breaking more than 2-1 for Kelly.
• TikTok: Since the fan on my two-year-old laptop sometimes goes into high gear for no apparent reason, I clicked on this. I had no idea computers could get so filthy inside.
• InstaHunks: So, apparently the world-famous Chippendales (above) work out…a lot. #dang
• Politico: Sen. Elizabeth Warren has pledged that her first step as president would be to overturn President Donald Trump’s decision to prohibit transgender troops in the military.
• Men’s Health: Rugby legend Gareth Thomas, who recently came out as HIV-positive, covers this month’s issue of Men’s Health UK. “It’s a sign of where we are that a man LIVING with HIV is on the cover of Men’s Health,” wrote the 45-year-old athlete on social media.
Thank you @MensHealthUK . It’s a sign of where we are that a man LIVING with HIV is on the cover of Men’s Health. Thank you to everyone who works to ensure this happens for not just me, but millions of people. @THTorgukpic.twitter.com/bMm72psn6j
• Fox News: A new poll from Fox News shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump in a hypothetical 2020 head-to-head matchup – and she’s not even running.
• OUT: A daycare center in Switzerland has come under fire for turning away a pair of twin boys because they have gay parents. The family was informed the boys would not be welcome in the playgroup because their parents’ relationship is “neither normal nor natural.”
• Campaign Ad: Mayor Pete Buttigieg, currently landing in 3rd place in Iowa polls, has a new campaign spot out in Iowa that highlights national unity. Titled “Sun Comes Up,” the ad asks voters to imagine the first day when Trump is no longer president, as Buttigieg promises to pick up the pieces of our divided nation.