By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
By A.H. Goldstein
The last time we spoke, we had a pretty intense conversation about you being diagnosed with syphilis and your struggles with addiction, and you were really forthcoming. Your honesty was just completely disarming. I saw a write-up on you sometime after that where you talked about how you were on stage and you disclosed that you have AIDs. I was completely taken aback by that and...
It's important to differentiate for people out there between HIV and AIDS. AIDS is what HIV develops into if it's not treated.
Right. I'm sorry. I misspoke. It's HIV you were diagnosed with. I misspoke. My apologies.
Not at all.
Either way, that's a startling admission to make on stage. Can you talk a bit about why you chose the stage to reveal that, when were you diagnosed, and maybe a bit about the whole process?
I was buying shoes in Berlin because I was moving to Sweden the next day, and I was living in Berlin at the time, and I got a text from a guy that I had had sex with saying that he had bad news. Since I didn't know the guy at all, I knew what it was, of course. So as soon as I got to Sweden, the first thing I had to do was find a doctor and get the test, and, obviously, it came back positive. It was a pretty dark time for me. It was January in Sweden, so it was dark all the time, and it was very cold. It was a difficult period.
The reason that I chose to talk about it when I did on stage was because I'd already had the better part of a year, a year and a half, to deal with the diagnosis. I was on stage with Hercules and Love Affair at the Meltdown Festival in London, and I was singing a song with Hercules and Love Affair that Andy [Butler] and I had written together, and the song was about how unnecessary it was for me to get that disease.
The song was about the fact that after getting sober and coming out of all of this destructive behavior that I still wasn't dealing with my destructive behavior in the world of sex. It's easy to get away with a lot of inappropriate behavior in the world of sex, because it's such a natural part of being a human and you can hide a lot of destructive behavior by saying, "Oh, I'm just a man. I've gotta do this. I've gotta do that."
I talked to Andy from Hercules and Love Affair about the fact that I might want to say something before the song because that's what the song's about. I didn't know if I was going to say anything about it, and I didn't know what my motivation was. I wanted to be sure that I was doing the right thing. So I didn't know if I was going to say anything until the moment I was standing on stage. But then I thought, "You know what? You're over-thinking this."
This song is about this. This is an important thing to talk about. You feel like you should be ashamed about this diagnosis. You should talk about it because you shouldn't be ashamed about it, and it shouldn't be a strange thing to talk about, and it shouldn't be a depressing thing to talk about." There have been a lot of amazing people who have been going through this a lot longer than I have.