Joshua Royal has put together a plethora of arts performances to raise money for us this World AIDS Day.
The Naked Truth is an online showcase of 15 new dance films, music, poetry and interviews and will be streamed live on Tuesday 1 December to spread positivity, raise vital funds and help remove the stigma around HIV.
I trained as a ballet dancer and have performed at The Royal Opera House.
In 2015 I was diagnosed with HIV. I was ashamed and scared of how I should tell my parents. My family has always been so supportive but there is still a lot of stigma. I was in the darkness and it took me a while to find myself through all the men, drugs and friends I chose to be around.
The church has always been my sense of community as a kid, but as a student the church said I couldn’t be confirmed as I was gay and could never have sex, so I rebelled against anything religious.
My mum and dad encouraged me to find a gay-friendly church in London. I started by going to Soho Gathering at Bloomsbury Baptist Church, later joining Oasis in Waterloo where I found a gay community of real, kind and genuine people.
This was all happening while I was trying to make it as an artist. I finally came to terms with my HIV status and I became undetectable. I came across Terrence Higgins Trust through my regular visits to 56 Dean Street. I have always loved all the work they are doing to end the stigma and hatred we face from people who are not educated on HIV.
After many years in the shadows I have finally found my passion and love for dance and performing again. It is a feeling I have missed so much! I created The Naked Truth so I can finally live a happy and free life without labels or fear. I felt it was time to share my story to encourage others to be brave and share theirs too!
I want to encourage young people to go and get tested regularly. HIV prevention pill PrEP is free in the UK. It’s important to know your status because if I hadn’t got tested I may never have found I was HIV positive.
It’s time to break free of the HIV stigma.