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Billy Porter to Fund New Prize for Playwrights Living with HIV

The first annual WIO! Prize was created through Donja R. Love's Write It Out! program, and will include dramaturgical support underwritten by GLAAD.

Billy Porter is the award-winning actor funding the inaugural WIO! Prize.
(© David Gordon)

Billy Porter, the Emmy-winning star of Pose and Tony-winning star of Kinky Boots, is funding a new playwriting prize for people living with HIV. The winner of the 2021 Write It Out! Prize will receive a cash prize of $5,000 and an opportunity to work with a professional dramaturg to develop a new work. The chosen dramaturg will also receive a stipend from GLAAD, the LGBT media not-for-profit.

The WIO! Prize was created through Donja R. Love's Write It Out! program for playwrights living with HIV. Love is the acclaimed writer of One in Two, Sugar in Our Wounds, and Fireflies. He has long been open about his HIV positive status. Porter recently revealed his own HIV positive status, breaking a 14-year silence on the subject.

Donja R. Love is the founder of the Write It Out! program.
(© David Gordon)

"Oftentimes, as people living with HIV, we can feel so alone," said Love in a press statement. "Due to stigma, there is a level of shame that grips us so tightly, adding to our loneliness. When we are able to navigate through these feelings and attempt to creatively express ourselves there aren't resources or safe spaces specifically for us. The WIO! Prize, much like the program, is here to change that. This Prize is for any playwright living with HIV who aims to center themselves and their work on their terms."

All U.S.-based playwrights living with HIV are welcome to submit a full-length play of at least 60 pages and a one-page playwright's statement (500 words or less) at The statement should address how the writer's HIV status influences their artistry (if at all) and what receiving the WIO! Prize would mean to them. The application deadline is September 3.

National Queer Theater, The Lark, Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative (MOBI), and The Each-Other Project have partnered to coordinate the submission process.

People living with HIV are also encouraged to apply to the Write It Out! program, a 10-week writing workshop led by Donja R. Love for people living with HIV, now in its second year. While writers may apply to both the prize and the program, they will only be accepted for one.