On tonight’s episode of Finding Prince Charming, Eric Leonardos shares with Robert and the other suitors that he has been living with HIV for the past ten years.
We spoke with Eric about doing the show, sharing his truth with Robert, and how HIV has impacted his life.
What made you decided to do Finding Prince Charming?
The opportunity seemed to fall into my lap. I was inspired to challenge myself this year by saying “yes” to all the things that scare me. And I have been single for a couple years and I thought, why not? Put yourself out there, be open to love, be optimistic, have fun and be yourself.
Did you know going in how (or if) you were going to address your status on the show?
In dating, this is where this subject often comes up. So I knew going into this that if I developed a deep enough connection with Robert I would share this.
We saw you talk about your status with Justin—did any of the other suitors come forward with support, either during the show or after?
Justin was so loving and supportive, which is a perfect example of way the to support people living with HIV and AIDS. All of the guys that were still living in the house were very supportive and caring.
That’s very important to people living with HIV: Studies have shown that people with HIV are more likely to seek treatment and take better care of themselves when they feel the support of those around them. It also helps lessen the stigma around HIV, which reduces people’s overall fear of getting tested.
Do the people in your life know you’re positive?
Yes, over the last five years I have become more comfortable about sharing my experience living with HIV with more than just those I am dating and close loved ones.
Has your status impacted your dating life before FPC?
In the last few years, most of the people I have dated are very sensitive and informed on the subject. I think it’s important for everyone to do their due diligence and be informed.
HIV has been a part of the LGBT community for decades. Do you think the “straight” world needs more education enough about the reality of living with HIV?
There’s room for all communities and social groups to better educate themselves about HIV. There’s still discrimination and stigma everywhere. And a need for education—to understand the virus and how it is and isn’t transmitted.
Is there anything you hope the audience takes away from the episode?
That everyone is worthy of love—and everyone should have the opportunity to explore it freely. It’s only through openness and vulnerability that we can break down the walls of guilt and shame that hold us back from living full and joyous lives.
In a sneak preview from tonight’s episode, Eric talks about his status with Justin.
Finding Prince Charming airs Thursdays at 9/8c on Logo.