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From Madonna to Hollywood: Coming Out and Learning to Thrive With HIV

From Madonna to Hollywood: Coming Out and Learning to Thrive With HIV

They will act, dance, sing, write, all the things that helped Wilborn “free myself and find my voice.” That’s what saved him, and maybe now it can do the same for others. “The trauma lasted as long as it did because I kept my story dormant. So what I want to do is give children and youth an opportunity to celebrate their truth, to bring it to the light so that they can get freer sooner.”

Would he be where he is today—happy, healthy, and self-aware—had the virus not come into his life? Could it be that HIV not only didn’t end his life, but in fact saved it?

“I have come to the reality that I am actually grateful that HIV showed up in my space because it did add velocity to my character work,” says the empowerment expert. “Don’t think I would be as clean about myself…about how I want to deal with people, as clean about how I can perceive life, honestly, if HIV had not shown up, because I would be off and running. I probably would not honestly be here. I have really come to believe that all of my journey, the HIV, the angst, the issues, the cravings, the addictions, me being on the other side of that is so that I can have a voice that can speak to somebody else who is still stuck or still trying to unravel that part of their life. I didn’t make it just so I could celebrate and go, ‘Carlton’s now fabulous and look at how healthy I am’—it was never about that. My life is fantastic. I get to do all the things that I want to do, honestly. HIV helped me wake up and embrace love—love for myself, love for others.”


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