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Digital Subscriptions > Gay Times > September 17 > “Being unabashedly honest is the most direct way I can advocate for being gay.”

“Being unabashedly honest is the most direct way I can advocate for being gay.”

Cecil Baldwin is the voice of acclaimed cult podcast-cum-live-show Welcome to Night Vale, and one of the most decorated queer actors in New York City. He’s also HIVpositive. The Night Vale crew are conveniently touring the UK this autumn, so you’d think Cecil would want to talk about that, right? Try and sell you a ticket? But he has more important things on his mind. After years of ‘not really speaking about it’, the actor wants to open up about his HIV status and share his experiences – the first steps he took, how he got the help he received, the emotional journey he went on – in the hope it might comfort to anyone else out there who’s recently diagnosed…

It’s been ten years now since I first got diagnosed HIV-positive. I found out right after I moved to New York City.

I was on tour and I contracted HIV while I was out on the road. I was playing safe and doing all the right things, but then sometimes you get careless and shit happens. I didn’t know it at the time, but I got the standard terrible flu symptoms a few days later – 103º temperature and things like that. I’d been on tour for about six months at that point so I just assumed that my body was worn down. I figured I’d just picked up some bug from being in a place that was different from where I was used to living.

It cleared up, much like flu-like symptoms do, and then I went from that tour to New York City. I found a job in a restaurant and was doing my regular three-to-four month check-up, and that’s when they told me that I’d tested positive.

I mostly felt shock, because I’d been trying my best to play safe, but I knew that maybe there were some grey areas or some time when I was a bit more risky. They tested me again for a false positive but about a week later I got the results back and it was still positive. That day was tough; it was really hard.

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About Gay Times

Out of the Blue: Simon Webbe on why we need to stand up and start talking about mental health. Elsewhere in the issue, Five to Five recreate Take That's iconic Do What U Like video; Julian Clary on embracing one's queerness; celebrated queer actor Cecil Baldwin speaks out against HIV stigma; Shania Twain on the comeback she thought would never happen; Francis Lee on his 'British Brokeback' God's Own Country; an expanded style section that will leave you gagging; plus opinion, travel and much more.