LGBTQ+ Activism Starts With Local Politics

Billy Porter
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Rocking the vote. Billy Porter encouraged the LGBTQ+ community not to forget about politics during Pride — especially when it comes to fighting for equality.

“You know, Pride initially started as an activist march,” the PoseStar, 52, told Us WeeklyThe VarietyThursday, May 5, Power of Women event “So let’s get back to that.” In order to fix what Porter called “our fractured government,” it’s important to understand and get involved in politics at all levels. “What we need to be talking about is … how to vote, where to vote, who to vote for and really understanding politics on a local level,” the Tony winner explained.

He continued: “I think recently I have begun to understand within the last decade that it’s actually the local level that has the most impact. And I know that a lot of people don’t really know that. And that’s what the other side counts on.”

Porter has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ issues since childhood. Essence in July 2020 that “being first-generation post-civil rights and feeding directly into — as a gay man — the AIDS crisis, activism is in my DNA. And while I don’t fancy myself an organizer, you tell me where to show up, I’m going to show up. I’m that kind of activist.”

In May 2021, CinderellaStar opened up about sharing his HIV-positive status and explained that he felt a responsibility to help others live their truth. “Having lived through the plague [the AIDS crisis], my question was always, ‘Why was I spared? Why am I alive?’” he told The Hollywood Reporter at the moment. “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.”

Porter was tested positive for HIV during a routine HIV testing in 2007. Porter shared the news with his circle, but kept it secret from the rest of the world for 14 years. “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,” the Broadway veteran explained at the time. “My mother had been through so much already, so much persecution by her religious community because of my queerness, that I just didn’t want her to have to live through their ‘I told you so’s.’”

He continued: “I didn’t want to put her through that. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I was the statistic that everyone predicted I would become. So I’d made a pact with myself that I would let her die before I told her,” he added. The actor shared his status with the mother in 2020 and she told him to not keep that secret again.

Porter learned an important lesson from the experience: sharing his life with the world. “The truth is the healing. And I hope this frees me,” he told the outlet. “I hope this frees me so that I can experience real, unadulterated joy, so that I can experience peace, so that I can experience intimacy, so that I can have sex without shame. This is for me. I’m doing this for me. I have too much s–t to do, and I don’t have any fear about it anymore. I told my mother — that was the hurdle for me. I don’t care what anyone has to say. You’re either with me or simply move out of the way.”

Travis Cronin Reporting

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