If you aren't familiar with the TLC show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, here's a quick primer on "Uncle Poodle." His real name is Lee Thompson, he's the brother of "Sugar Bear," Alana Thompson's dad, and -- oh, and Alana Thompson is "Honey Boo Boo." There, we're all up to speed on the nicknames -- and he's openly gay. He's consistently been an advocate for what he calls "queer rednecks," and now he's revealed that he's HIV positive.
Whether you love, hate, or are entirely unaware of the Honey Boo Boo clan and their controversial reality show, you have to admit this was a hell of a brave step for Lee Thompson.
Thompson recently shared his status in an interview with Atlanta-based gay magazine Fenuxe, saying that he wants to help others learn to use protection ... and to be tested often.
I was adamant about getting my HIV status checked on a regular basis. On March 16, 2012, I tested negative. Then, in May of 2012, my test results came back positive. I knew it had been my boyfriend who infected me. I later learned he had been HIV-positive and was not taking medication and had not bothered to tell me about it.
Thompson says he was advised to press charges against his then-boyfriend, and although he was hesitant to do so, he ultimately believed it was the right decision. His ex is now serving a five-year sentence for withholding his HIV status, and Thompson married boyfriend Joshua Yarbroughe in August.
He's telling his story now in part to serve as a cautionary tale for those who don't use protection during sex:
I would have been cool with his HIV status if he had been honest. I don't have an issue with the disease. I would have known how to protect myself. [People who don't use protection] are damn fools! They are playing Russian roulette; they are playing with their lives and that of their sexual partners.
Also, Thompson is hoping for his own show, so he can help young people in the LGBT community:
My advice is to seek out their parents or an adult they trust. I would not advise them to go public or share the information with their schools until they feel safe and comfortable. They will know when the time is right. (...) I know what it is like to be bullied. I know what it is like to live with HIV. I can help and I want to. I want to have my own television show and highlight what it is like being gay in the south. I think I have a good story to tell.
Personally, I think Lee Thompson is incredibly courageous for being so open about his sexuality and his HIV status. He certainly doesn't owe it to anyone to make that choice, and I can imagine with all the attention on the Honey Boo Boo family, it would have been much, much easier to avoid the subjects altogether. You know there's going to be all sorts of backlash against him now, and I've gotta say, it also takes major balls to publicly take part in the INCREDIBLY heated discussion about the criminalization of HIV (i.e., whether or not it was his responsibility to practice safe sex in the relationship during which he was infected).
Brave move, Uncle Poodle. You stay healthy, now.
Would you watch an Uncle Poodle spinoff show? What do you think about his decision to share his HIV status?
Image via TLC