Billy Porter is a 'free man' since announcing HIV positive status: 'I've never felt joy like this'
It's been just over a week since Billy Porter publicly announced his HIV diagnosis, and the Pose star is living his best life. While appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote the latest season of his hit series, Porter revealed that since going public with the news, he's never felt better.
"I've been positive since 2007. And, you know, having lived through the AIDS crisis, it was heavy for me. It was a heavy year, 2007," he told Fallon. "I lived with the shame of it for a really long time and last week I released that shame, I released that trauma and I am a free man, honey! Free! I've never felt joy like this before."
In the Hollywood Reporter article, in which Porter detailed his "coming out" story, he admitted he had been HIV positive since 2007 and talked about the reason he kept his diagnosis a secret. "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," he said. "So I tried to think about it as little as I could. I tried to block it out. But quarantine has taught me a lot. Everybody was required to sit down and shut the f--- up."
Porter told Fallon why he didn't tell his mother about his diagnosis for 14 years, only telling her recently when she went into a nursing home, in a lightbulb moment of gratitude journaling.
"Growing up in the Pentecostal church, there's such a stigma surrounding it. Having lived through it, I was supposed to know better, it happened anyway," he said. "There was just so much going on, and my mother received so much persecution because I was gay, and I just didn't want her to have to go through that again."
The emotional and supportive response Porter received from his mom helped heal years of trauma — and has set Porter on a whole new path and given him a new lease on life.
"You know, we talk about it in the Black church. You know, this joy that I have — the world didn't give and the world can't take it away. I got it," Porter said proudly. "I got some joy now. It really feels good, it really feels great."