Child star Actor Danny Pintauro reveals he got HIV while on crystal meth

September 29, 2015 4:50 am

 

has revealed that he is HIV positive. Photo / Getty Images

In 2003, Danny Pintauro realised he had a problem. Unlike countless
other child stars who crash and burn before they can legally drink, the
27-year-old man who once played the tow-headed child sprite Jonathan on Who’s the Boss? was not dead or in jail. But after graduating from Stanford University and heading to New York, he was a bit adrift.
“So
as soon as I got to New York all that stopped and I suddenly went, ‘Who
am I?'” he said in 2004. “I had no idea. I was so focused through
school and college that I never tried to figure out the difference
between Danny Pintauro and Dan Pintauro. We’re very separate people.”

A scene from the TV show Who's The Boss?, 1985. Photo / Getty Images
A scene from the TV show Who’s The Boss?, 1985. Photo / Getty Images
Work wasn’t necessarily the problem – Pintauro has been
performing on-and-off since he finished college, even if only in modest
productions of Shear Madness. Perhaps surprisingly, his sexuality
wasn’t an issue either. Pintauro came out “before everybody,” he said,
way back in 1997 after a tabloid threatened to do the job for him – and
TV mom Judith Light advised him to come clean.

But, after the end of a two-year relationship, he felt he
should see what else was out there. This is what led the young man,
whose character used to confide in Light and Tony Danza on national
television, to crystal meth – and, as Pintauro told Oprah Winfrey in a
dramatic interview aired over the weekend, an HIV diagnosis.
“I’m HIV positive,” a tearful Pintauro told Winfrey. “And I have been for 12 years.”
Pintauro told Winfrey he was diagnosed in March of 2003.
“I
went in for a regular checkup,” he said. “You know, as a responsible
gay man, you’re getting an HIV test done every six months … And you
sort of waited two weeks on pins and needles, or at least I did, because
I was just terrified of the idea of getting HIV.”
The diagnosis was, he told Winfrey, even a bit of a relief.

Actor Danny Pintauro, 1986. Photo / Getty Images
Actor Danny Pintauro, 1986. Photo / Getty Images
“It’s backwards,” Pintauro said. “You’ve spent so much time
terrified that you’re going to get it, and then you have it. You don’t
have to be terrified anymore.”
Winfrey asked for more details.
“There
was more that I wanted to explore sexually,” Pintauro told Winfrey.
“Crystal meth takes away your inhibitions. You have no limits. And if
you want to explore that adventurous side, taking the drug is going to
put you there.”
“Does it make you more sexual?” Winfrey asked.
“Heightened,” Pintauro said. “Very, very heightened.”
His readiness to experiment led to a drug-fueled sexual encounter, Pintauro said, with a man whose name he did not know.
“I truly thought I was being safe, and obviously, I wasn’t,” Pintauro said.
“Just paint a picture for me,” Winfrey said. “You’re doing crystal meth … swinging from the chandeliers, having sex for days?”
“Something like that, yeah,” Pintauro said.
But
after his diagnosis, Pintauro said he got more responsible. There was
always the fear – “Who’s gonna wanna love me?,” Pintauro wondered – but
he said he told the man who became his husband about his HIV status
before they even kissed.
“What I vowed at time was that I wasn’t going to be the guy who gave it me,” he said. “And I never became that guy.”
Pintauro said he is now looking forward to life as an HIV activist.
“I missed the opportunity to be a beacon of light for gay kids who were going through what I was going through,” Pintauro said.
“I feel like one of the ways the community is going to listen is for me to be pretty harsh,” he told People
in a separate interview about his HIV status and past drug use. “It’s
not going to be, ‘Hey guys, let’s work on fixing this.’ It’s going to
be, ‘Get your f***ing s*** together,’ pardon my language.”

Danny Pintauro and husband Wil Tabares. Photo / Getty Images
Danny Pintauro and husband Wil Tabares. Photo / Getty Images
Indeed, even before his was HIV-positive, Pintauro had expressed frustration with closeted Hollywood stars.
“What
really pisses me off these days is the number of actors who are gay –
who are living that lifestyle – but who are not out in their public
lives,” he said in 1999. “My point is that somewhere out there is a 13-
or 14-year-old kid who knows that he’s gay and who is having a very hard
time with it. And he or she sees this actor or actress on television
and just knows in their hearts that they are also gay, but see them
totally living the lie. That really bothers me.”
In that 1999
interview, Pintauro also responded to the oft-discussed schoolyard
speculation that he and/or Jonathan, the character he played on Who’s the Boss?, was gay.
“I
can’t tell you how many people have said that to me,” he said. “But at
the time, I really wasn’t at all aware of it. Now, when I look at old
episodes of Who’s the Boss? I say, ‘God, you are such a little f****t.'”
But more than two decades after the show went off the air, Pintauro seemed ready to help make change.
“Last
meal as a nobody,” Pintauro wrote below a picture with his husband on
Instagram posted over the weekend. “First meal as an activist.”

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