Coming out as LGBTQIA is tough. Coming out as HIV positive, especially when you’re a public figure, is that much more difficult as it has its own unique set of issues one must tackle.
This is the case for actor Nathaniel Hall, who many have been introduced to on the new series It’s a Sin. The Channel 4 drama, which will make its way to America next month on HBO Max, chronicles four friends who move to London in the early 80’s and have their lives turned upside down by the AIDS crisis.
It’s a topic that is very personal for Nathaniel as he himself has been living with HIV for years. To add insult to injury it was something that he contracted after his first sexual encounter with a much older man at the age of 16.
“[He was] between 23 and 26,” Nathaniel said in an interview with Attitude Magazine. They were in the middle of a whirlwind romance before he was diagnosed two weeks after his 17th birthday.
“It was like being hit by a truck,” he recalled. “I was told at the time that I had a prognosis of 37 years. That was so hard to hear, to have a date on it.”
Nathaniel, like many others in his position, kept his diagnosis a secret from his family and friends for several years. “I was living with so much fear and stigma, self-hatred and shame,” he admitted.
That changed in 2017 after he admitted to “partying” and “self-medicating” with “alcohol and drugs”.
“I had this moment where I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, ‘I don’t even know who you are, you’ve lost your way in life, your drive and sense of purpose'”.
“I realized my mental health had taken a nose dive and I thought I could either let this eat me up and swallow me whole, or flip it and turn it into [something] positive.”
He then boldly turned his HIV experience into a one man show in 2018 called First Time. It was here that he went public with his condition in an effort to minimize the stigma surrounding this disease.
Going public meant finally revealing the news to his loved ones. He highlighted his parents, who ended up being supportive and attending his show although it wasn’t the easiest of things for them to witness.
“There were moments where I could see that my mum and dad’s eye lines were down. I think dad was crying. The show is warts and all. It’s quite funny and light-hearted, but it [also] goes to some dark places and it was difficult for them to understand that their son had been through these things. For me, it was important. It was family therapy in a sense.”
Nathaniel isn’t the only celebrity who is up front and honest about being HIV positive. Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness was diagnosed at the age of 25 but didn’t talk about it until he released his memoir Over The Top seven years later.
Sourcing: Attitude Magazine.