Edinburgh Festival Fringe performer's show about contracting HIV from his first sexual encounter
Nathaniel Hall was 16 years old, his school’s head boy, and had only recently come out as gay when he contracted HIV.
For the next 14 years, shame and stigma caused him to hide his diagnosis from everyone in his life.
Nathaniel, now 32, a theatre producer and performer living in Manchester, has finally spoken out through a play he has written about finding out he was HIV while he was still just a child.
On Wednesday he will “come out” for a second time, but this time in front of 100 people, during his one-man theatre production, First Time, which is coming to Summerhall.
Nathaniel works closely with HIV Scotland, while he is now an activist for the cause, he explains how he struggled to cope when he first learned he was HIV positive.
He said: “I was 16 and met an older man, he was in his early 20s, attractive, openly gay and paying me attention, it was intoxicating.
“That relationship didn’t last long; it was only a couple of months, a summer fling really. And then we kind of went our separate ways.
“I had had symptoms for a while but I put off going to the clinic because I was scared.
“But I finally got the test, I had to wait two weeks for the results, I went after school and got the news.
“When I was told I was HIV positive I just blacked out, I remember feeling a physical thud in my chest.
“I got home and I made the snap decision to go into my bedroom and close the door, instead of going and telling my family what had happened.
“I think the reason for this was linked to shame and feeling like I had let my mum down.
“I am really close to my family and I knew they would be supportive but it’s the power of the stigma, it creates a sort of self-hatred like you are dirty and infected.
“There is no other illness that has the same stigma.”
Nathaniel has come a long way since then and has documented his journey from the age of 16 to now in a one-man show, First Time.
The show will run until August 25 and focuses on Nathaniel’s life as a gay man with HIV and the struggles he continues to face.
He hopes the show will “educate people about HIV and help take away the stigma”.
Nathaniel said that the reception so far has been “overwhelming” and he has received “so much support” from “many different types of people”.
The show is supported by HIV Scotland.
A spokesman for the charity said: “HIV Scotland is very excited to be partnering with Nathaniel and First Time, a show that at its heart speaks to the anti-stigma message we as an organisation are dedicated to.
“Nathaniel’s resonant story is one needing told and his decision to involve us is a fantastic opportunity to inform audiences about the work we do across Scotland.”
Tickets are available here: https://festival19.summerhall.co.uk/event /first-time/