Now Porter has shared that he's been drawing on his own life as a gay man living with HIV for the role.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Porter revealed that he was first diagnosed 14 years ago.
.@theebillyporter joins @tamronhall to share the backstory of his 2007 HIV-positive diagnosis. In an exclusive and candid conversation, he reveals the secret he's been keeping for 14 years... pic.twitter.com/ChXGk6I4of— Tamron Hall Show (@TamronHallShow) May 19, 2021
The actor also told Tamron Hall Wednesday that in 2007 his life was in a bit of a shambles after having been diagnosed with Type II diabetes, filed for bankruptcy and then diagnosed with HIV.
"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," he told the publication. "HIV-positive, where I come from, growing up in the Pentecostal church with a very religious family, is God's punishment."
Porter said he used his character on "Pose" as a "surrogate" for his status, but the pandemic caused him to pause and process his feelings about it all.
Now he says medical advances have helped him have undetectable levels of the virus in his system and Porter is now ready to tell the world "This is what HIV-positive looks like now."
"I survived so that I could tell the story. That's what I'm here for," he said. "I'm the vessel, and emotionally that was sufficient -- until it wasn't."
"It's time to grow up and move on because shame is destructive -- and if not dealt with, it can destroy everything in its path."
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The video in the media player above was used in a previous report.