The moment Mondo Guerra told Heidi Klum and the judges about his inspiration for his personal print design on Season 8 of Project Runway had us in tears. His coming out on national television as HIV-positive was truly inspirational and one of the most memorable moments in the series's history—especially since moving to Lifetime.
Now Mondo, the little guy with the kooky clothes and a super talent for mixing prints for maximum effect, is back on the network's latest iteration, Project Runway All Stars—as the only true star of the show.
He spoke with Neal Boverman in the latest issue of HIV Plus magazine about his role as an activist, among other things.
As Boverman explains, "Guerra’s decision to put himself out there as a face and voice of HIV was not taken lightly. He knows he’ll likely be referred to as 'the HIV-positive designer' for the foreseeable future, but the reception he received after season 8 touched him deeply."
“After the episode aired [in which he revealed his status], there was so much positive response from so many different people,” Guerra recalls. “A lot of that was from people who were still keeping their status a secret and letting the stigma really define who they were. It was keeping them from being honest. So coming off the show it’s been my responsibility to continue the conversation.”
Guerra’s family was in the dark about his status until he told them the truth a few days before the coming-out episode aired. His fears of a reaction filled with fear and accusations were far from realized. Instead his family was warm and understanding. Since then they’ve only grown more vested in Guerra’s health.
“My entire family has really stepped up to the plate,” he says. “Now they have put a face to the disease and have sought out the materials to educate themselves. Within my own little family — well, I’m Mexican, so it’s not that little — to see them educate themselves and talk openly about HIV and ask me questions makes me really proud to know that within my community, I’ve made a difference. I hope that continues with my advocacy work.”