The actor revealed that he was first diagnosed with the illness in 2007, in the same year that he was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and was declared bankrupt.
Due to the shame from other events in that year, and the shame that he had accumulated during his life, the actor "lived with that shame in silence for 14 years".
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Coming from a religious background within the Pentecostal church, where HIV was viewed as "God's punishment" for being gay, the star didn't want to tell his mother, Cloerina, what he was going through because of how his sexuality had already impacted her life within her religious community.
Billy admitted that he was only going to tell his mother once she had passed away. "I didn't want to put her through that," he explained.
"I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I was the statistic that everybody said I would be."
However, once it became clear that his mother was going to live a long life, he realised the need to talk to her about his condition.
Billy explained that he and his sister were going to tell her after they both received their COVID vaccines, but one day while writing in his gratitude journal, he began thinking about her and decided to come out to her.
The star hid his illness from his mother
The star then told the publication the touching reaction, she had to the news. "Not two minutes into the conversation, she's like, 'What's wrong?' I said, 'Nothing,'" he explained.
"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.'"
Billy added that his coming out to his mom couldn't have come at a "better time" and noted how many of his dreams were beginning to come true, including landing the role as Fairy Godmother in Cinderella.
And although shame had followed the Kinky Boots star around for a while, he also had an empowering message as he said he had "transcended" the statistics.
He also shook off the notion that he would now be referred to as a HIV-positive person, explaining how he was "so much more than that diagnosis".
The actor also shared an empowering message
The strength of coming out to his mother, also helped him tell his cast and crewmates on Pose, as he realised "the truth is the responsible road".
Pose, which has just finished its third and final season has openly and honestly explored how the HIV epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s impacted the entirety of the LGBTQ+ community.
Billy noted that his own character in the show, Pray Tell, was diagnosed and that he was able to say certain things that he wanted to before having come out "through a surrogate".
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