*This article contains spoilers for It’s A Sin*
For Nathaniel J Hall, the actor and theatre-maker who plays Donald, in a different time this could have been his own story.
Now 34, Hall contracted HIV when he was just 16, from the first man he ever had sex with. Growing up in the late ’80s and ’90s, he had heard of HIV and AIDS but, at that age, it wasn’t really on his radar as something that could affect his own life. Sex education in school was “pretty much non-existent”, and the UK was still living under Section 28 of the 1988 local government act, banning the “promotion” of homosexuality by councils and schools.
“When I was offered the test, actually, I refused, because I just thought I couldn’t possibly have caught it,” Hall tells Sky News. “You know, I’m white, middle class, I was head boy at my school, I was like, it doesn’t happen to people like me, which is obviously a really ridiculous attitude to have because it can happen to anyone.
“But, yeah, I think it really wasn’t on my radar and there was a denial there because of the fear.”
“People with HIV are still people. We’re not a danger; we have all the same love, hopes and aspiration as others and we just want respect really.”
Nathaniel also runs his own arts company Dibby Theatre, who are hosting a playwriting course specifically for LGBT+ people in Greater Manchester. Applications are open from Feb 1 to 15 and you can find details on how to apply here.