Broadway Actor Hernando Umana Comes Out As HIV+ To Tackle Stigma

In an effort to address the stigma related to being HIV positive, Broadway actor Hernando Umana (Kinky Boots, national tour of School of Rock) has come out about his HIV status in a candid and moving Instagram post.

The 30-year-old actor begins by taking a literary breath and prefaces the posts saying, “This is by far the most important, scary, liberating post of my life.”

Umana shares that he was surprised by his HIV diagnosis ten years ago because he’d “only slept with 3 people” in his life.

He admits the first thought that came to him was “How long do I have to live?” He immediately flips on that thinking and calls it ‘uneducated,’ but acknowledges that many gay men had been indoctrinated into the school of thought that in this day and age if you get HIV it’s “because of wrongdoings and they deservingly die from it.”

“‘Well I’m here to shut that shit down,” he quickly added. “There is NOTHING wrong with me and I am healthier than I’ve ever been.”

One point of Umana’s post is to encourage people to talk about HIV and ask questions.

Umana wants folks to know there shouldn’t be any shame in asking questions and learning how to talk about HIV status.

Umana also has some straight-forward advice: “Take your PrEP. Use condoms. Be SAFE. Let’s end this stigma forever and eventually end HIV forever!”

He concludes with this empowering statement: “I, Hernando Umana, am a proud gay man LIVING with HIV. Fuck that feels good to say.”

The post has received tons of support not only from the general public but Broadway producer Daryl Roth (“Just live your life with dignity, dear friend”) and out Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy (“This is so important! Thank you for being courageous and for educating and inspiring others!”).

Gay Star News points out the post was re-shared by the AIDS Memorial Instagram account.

The founder of the account, Stuart, spoke with Gay Star News about why he felt the post was important.

Hernando’s post just underlines the stigma still out there! It’s ludicrous to think such an announcement in this day and age is still a big deal. But it is.

We all know stigma kills. We know that people don’t take their medication because of stigma. That people feel shamed, not worthy and fear rejection. The fact the it took Hernando 10 years to disclose his status just makes you think: how far have we really come?

OK, it’s a chronic condition but our attitudes need to catch up fast because people are dying due to stigma.

Read the full post below.

And to underscore just how healthy Mr. Umana is take a look at what living with HIV can be.

Thanks to Hernando Umana for coming out and pointing up how folks can thrive living with HIV in such a poignant way.
 

 

::takes deep breath:: This is by far the most important, scary, liberating post of my life. Here we go- 10 years ago, at a young young age of 20, I was diagnosed with HIV. I’ll never forget the moment they told me. It wasn’t possible- I had only slept with 3 people in my life! This can’t be true. The first words out of my mouth were “how long do I have to live?” That’s how uneducated I was about it. It had been drilled in my head that gay people get HIV because of wrong doings and they deservingly die from it. Well I’m here to shut that shit down. There is NOTHING wrong with me and I am healthier than I’ve ever been. In the last 10 years I’ve met countless of HIV positive men. Some of these men are so affected by the stigma that they don’t tell a soul about their status, even go as far as not taking their medication. In our extremely privileged community the stigma is more dangerous than the disease. We still have a lot of fighting to do for the people who don’t have the privilege of cost affective medication. So I stand on the shoulders of people like @staleypr who risked his life for us. I stand on the shoulders of the millions of people who had to suffer and die from this disease. I stand on the shoulders of the gay men who were forced out of the closet in such a scary time. These men and woman fought and died to get to where we’re at now- To take a pill at night and never have to worry about dying. To get the disease to a point where it is IMPOSSIBLE to transmit (undetectable).How can I be ashamed of this? I honor their legacy by telling my story. So let’s talk about it. Let’s ask questions. Take your prep. Use condoms. Be SAFE. Let’s end this stigma forever and eventually end HIV forever! To those who have questions- don’t feel dumb asking anything about it. It’s not your fault there’s such a lack of education out there. To those who are afraid to talk about their status- you’ve got at least one guy right here 🙂 you are LOVED. You are BEAUTIFUL and there is nothing wrong with you. I, Hernando Umana, am a proud gay man LIVING with HIV. Fuck that feels good to say. #actup #fightthestigma #endthestigma #hiv #broadway #bcefa #mytruth

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Mornings #la

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(h/t Gay Star News)

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