"The Real World: New Orleans" Danny Roberts on his "Homecoming," HIV stigma, and what he's learned over the past 2 decades

Let GLAAD reintroduce you to Danny Roberts. An actor, recruiter, and television personality, you may remember Roberts for his culture-defining appearance on MTV's The Real World in 2000. Just out of the closet, and then in a relationship with US Army Captain Paul Dill, Roberts gained national attention when Dill appeared on the show to visit him but had his face blurred due to the U.S. Military policy "Don't ask, don't tell." Roberts once again shook the cultural zeitgest in 2018 when he revealed he was HIV positive in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

In 2000, Roberts became an unofficial face of Gay America, and 22 years later, Roberts sat down with GLAAD's Vice President of Communications & Talent, Anthony Allen Ramos, to discuss his legacy, and his reuniting with all of his original castmates on The Real World Homecoming: New Orleans. "At this stage in [my] life it was probably the last thing on the radar expected to happen. I think for all of us it was a really special moment in time when it happened for us that we had all really tucked away," says Roberts.

Roberts went on to share how revisiting the show, and reuniting with his castmates gave him an opportunity to reeducate his peers and the public on HIV. On U=U, the scientific principle that "people with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load ... cannot sexually transmit the virus to other," Roberts shared: "I forget now that a majority of the population does not understand that if you’re HIV positive and you’re treated you essentially cannot transmit the virus. A big part of what motivated me to be confident and be public about this a few years ago was the fact that scientists had just gotten to a point of confidence in actually publicly stating the declaration. So that gave me a lot of confidence, and gave me a driver to sort of help other people to understand that fact."

On going public with his HIV status, Roberts told GLAAD's Anthony Allen Ramos, "I could not believe...even though I went through my own journey to come to this understanding...but it was really challenging to realize how much of the world, including gay men, still have enormous amounts of negative bias towards anyone who is positive. It still comes loaded with all sorts of judgment, and preconceived notions. And I just thought 'well, here’s the next chapter of my life where the universe has presented a challenge to me that I want to own and be vocal about, so that hopefully other people live in a little less pain.'”

Watch the full interview with Roberts below:

The Real World Homecoming: New Orleans is available to stream now on Paramount+