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Mykki Blanco Talks Coming Out as HIV-Positive, Looking for Love, and His Mother's Support

Mykki Blanco
Photo by Natalie Weiss

In an exclusive interview with HIV Plus, Blanco gets real about his status, his family, and himself.

When Mykki Blanco came out as HIV-positive earlier, it was a watershed moment. Now, HIV Plus magazine has put the "Wavvy" rapper on the cover and interviewed him about his journey and struggles.

"I've been HIV-Positive since 2011, my entire career. Fuck stigma and hiding in the dark, this is my real life. I'm healthy I've toured the world 3 times but I've been living in the dark, it's time to actually be as punk as I say I am," Blanco wrote in a Facebook post earlier this year. He then followed it with another comment: "No more living a lie. HAPPY PRIDE."

Out 2013 Out100 honoree Blanco, born Michael David Quattlebaum Jr., did not anticipate the reaction he would receive. The post garnered over 12,000 likes and over 700 shares. LGBT and mainstream media outlets both covered the story.

"I did it on this whole emotional whim," Blanco said of his coming-out. "But I think afterwards, when Newsweek and Time magazine -- who have never heard of me before -- are writing about it, I'm like, 'Oh, wait, maybe it's been a while since someone's done this.' "

"I actually feel like a good person. And I don't think I had felt like a good person in a really long time," he says, before breaking down in tears.

Mykki Blanco

Blanco also told the magazine that the time immediately after his diagnosis was "a very dark period."

"I thought the world was over," he recalls. "I was not entirely surprised because I knew what I was doing in that period of my life -- it was a very dark period -- and I knew what I was doing to contribute to the high-risk behavior that led to it happening."

Blanco told no one he was positive and had no romantic partners for the first year after his diagnosis. "The best way to keep a secret is to tell no one," he says. He tells HIV Plus that it was 2 years before he could tell his mother, which he did in "the worst possible way... [during] a heated argument."

"The reason I didn't tell my mother for so long is because I didn't think she'd be able to handle it," says Blanco, who remembered her warnings about HIV and the importance of safe sex. "I think that for a lot of mothers who end up having gay sons, that is a fear."

Blanco's mother called a week later with a reassuring message.

"I've been doing a lot of reading. I've been doing a lot of praying. You're gonna be OK," Blanco recalls his mom telling him. Then his mother took charge of his health care and treatment, making sure he kept his appointments.

"I'm so glad I told her," he says.

He also did it for his fans, explaining:

"How shitty and how deceived would they feel if, 20 years from now, they found out I was HIV-positive but I was too afraid of the stigma to come out about it?" he asks. "What kind of fraud would I have been to all the people that supported me? All the people that are trans and positive? Who are gay and positive? Who have supported me and bought my music and come to my shows? I couldn't be honest with myself enough, to love myself enough, [so] that self-love could then be encouragement or inspiration to them? No, no, no. Honestly, truthfully, I think I have too much integrity for that."

Beyond that he did it for himself.

"I did it for love. I did it for myself," he asserts. "At a certain point, my real life has to be more important than this career. And at a certain point, my own happiness and my own loneliness, it overcame me."

Finally, Blanco tells the mag that he's looking for love and won't let his status stop him, explaining:

"I want real love in my life. I don't want love at 3 a.m. I want someone who knows. I want positive guys who are positive to know that I am positive, so that they can approach me and that we can talk and there can be no awkwardness. I want negative guys to know so that I don't have to have that awkward conversation with them anymore. Or if they really do like me, they know what they're getting into."

Blanco's also set new boundaries while he's touring.

"I had made this rule for myself: I can't hook up with groupies on tour. But then I found myself in Berlin or in different countries or in bathhouses or part of a culture that I don't condemn, but...that is not healthy for me. And so, I was like, You know what? I don't want to be this person anymore."

"I'm no saint. I'm no perfect person. I'm sure that something will happen or I'll do something imperfect," he concludes. "But right now I literally have nothing to hide. And it feels so amazing."

Read the full story here.

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