LGBTQ+ Pride Month

The LGBTQ Community Is Inspired By Openly Gay ‘Hamilton’ Star Javier Muñoz, And The Feeling Is Mutual

"Thank you for your courage, your strength, your compassion, your truths."

Javier Muñoz knows all too well that there is no one way to be gay.

The openly gay, HIV-positive star of Broadway's Hamilton has succeeded in life against countless odds and has been an inspiration to many. Still, he credits his strength and perseverance on the fan base that he inspires most.

He recently wrote in a love letter to LGBTQ fans for Billboard, "The stories you share of how my coming out helped you come out; the stories you share of how my resilience has invigorated your own; the stories you share of how I inspired you; all that you say I give to you is returned to me from you tenfold."

Muñoz is not only living with HIV, but he's won the battle against cancer, too. His unwavering ability to move forward with his life goals is something to be applauded. So when he stepped in to fill the huge shoes of Lin-Manuel Miranda's starring role in the hit, hardest-ticket-to-get-in-town Broadway musical, he didn't blink an eye. In fact, he was the one playing the role of Alexander Hamilton when the Obamas were in town to catch the show. But, even then, his razor-sharp focus wasn't on them, it was on his predecessor, the man who wrote and birthed the play to global stardom.

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"With all due respect to our President, because I love our President, I wasn't thinking about him," he told GQ in a previous interview. "It was Lin's first opportunity to see the show. … So that was my priority, to make sure I'm telling this as clearly and as fully as I can for Lin … that's my job."

The Brooklyn-born actor of Puerto Rican descent — the youngest of four sons — Muñoz's talent and special gifts were seen by the time he was 6 years old. Raised in large part by his brother David — who was seven years his senior — while their mother worked countless jobs after temporarily separating from their father, an ad agency illustrator-turned-Fifth Avenue doorman, Muñoz knew was it felt like to be a "minority" early on.

"Like when an adult is talking to a group of kids and looks at all the other kids but doesn't look at the minority," he told GQ. "We feel that. … Like you are separate."

But his differences that were so harshly pointed out to him in daily life didn't stop there. In fact, it was far from it. He was a young, gay Puerto Rican growing up in a predominantly African-American neighborhood who was not the fit, handsome man he is today. To top it all off, he was super intelligent, and that wasn't exactly celebrated in his 'hood.

Even with all the bullying outside, Muñoz's safe haven was in the confines of his home. That helped to cast off the haters that laced his day-to-day existence and instead made him feel sympathetic towards them.

"There's nothing wrong with me. What's wrong with everyone else?" he recalled to GQ.

The way his family always had his back was likely why it was slightly easier breaking the news to his Catholic Puerto Rican parents and his older brother-guardian, David, that he was gay while he was in high school. Their reaction, well, they "didn't even blink." And that is not a typical response from a Latino family, who often treat being gay as taboo and something you just don't talk about.

Fast-forward to 2002 when Muñoz learned he was HIV-positive after a routine quarterly blood test.

"We were in a relationship," he told GQ. "And it was an adult choice to not be safe because I was with my partner."

But that partner knew he was HIV-positive and left Muñoz in the dark, which is why he is so open to publicly talking about his diagnosis. Again, his family was there to support him with unconditional love.

Although HIV was undetectable in his blood after six months of rigorous treatment, his attempts at dating again weren't well received once they found out about his status.

"Here I am coming at you saying I'm fully HIV-positive and I'm letting you know that and there are ways to be safe," he told GQ. "But you're gonna shun me but then be unsafe with someone you've just met?"

In 2015, he was hit once again with disease. This time it was cancer, something both his parents had battled in the past. Along with his parents and brothers, it was his stage family that supported him the most.

"There was no one who didn't believe in me in that moment," he recalled.

As alive as he is today, living life to the fullest and succeeding beyond his wildest dreams, Muñoz felt as though, "I've died several times already."

Still, he presses on. An openly gay Puerto Rican man who is HIV-positive and battled cancer is still here to tell his story, and share his love with the world and mostly with those that hail him as inspiring.

"You inspire me," he wrote in his Billboard love letter to fans. "You invigorate my resilience. So much of my strength to live my truth comes from you. So thank you for your courage, your strength, your compassion, your truths."

(H/T: 

(H/T: Billboard | GQ)

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