Growing up can be hard. Kids are forced to deal with bullies, fights with friends, and of course, puberty. For child stars, growing up is even more difficult because millions of people are not only watching them go through their “awkward years”, but child stars are always seen as adorable kids, even when the reach adulthood. For many child stars, the transition to adulthood comes with a variety of issues, such as substance abuse, imprisonment, and coming to terms with one’s sexual orientation. Although some young starlets can be defined as “trainwrecks”, others are using their fame to improve the lives of others. One child star that is using his past to change the world is former Who’s the Boss? star, Danny Pintauro.
In 1997, five years after Who’s the Boss? ended, Danny Pintauro was forced to reveal to the public that he was gay. Although it was difficult for Pintauro, he felt that this was important not only for himself, but for younger fans who were struggling with their own sexuality. Pintauro explained that “somewhere out there is a 13 or 14 year old kid who knows that he’s gay and who is having a very hard time with it. And he or she sees this actor or actress on television and just knows in their heart that they are also gay, but see them totally living the lie. That really bothers me.” While some actors may choose to play straight characters to hide their true identity, Pintauro did not want younger members of the LGBT community to feel that their orientation is something that needed to be hidden. Although Pintauro was only twenty-one in 1997, he proved that he would be an advocate for the LGBT community for years to come.
Despite the fact that Pintauro came out almost two decades ago, he continued to struggle with his personal life. Pintauro recently admitted that he has been living with HIV since 2003, which was a result of exploring his sexuality and usage of crystal meth. While some people may choose to keep their diagnosis a secret, Pintauro is putting a postive spin on his condition by using this opportunity to educate others. Pintauro explained that “believe it or not, I thought that I was being safe in that encounter. I know exactly when it happened…What I want my community to realize is we need to take better care of ourselves.” In order to reach as many people as possible, Pintauro has announced that he will be starting a “Beacon of Light” tour, and if need be, he will “go from pride to pride to try to get [his] community to say, ‘Let’s get our crap together. This is not okay with me.'”
Millennials may be thinking: “so what? Plenty of actors have used drugs, and plenty are gay!” In reality, Pintauro’s decision to discuss his past and become an activist is a huge deal for our society. While many people associate HIV with sex, it can also be passed through sharing needles, as Pintauro’s story indicates. Pintauro’s tour can help educator others about the dangers of sharing used needles.
More importantly, Pintauro’s activism is beneficial to the LGBT community. Now that the LGBT community is gaining more rights and respect, people are finally starting to feel more comfortable with their sexuality. As a result, LGBT members may feel more open with having many sexual partners. This can be seen in popular apps such as Grinder and Tinder. Both appls welcome casual “hook-ups” among homosexuals, which can be potentially dangerous if a person decides to have unprotected sex with many people. By listening to Pintauro’s first hand experience with HIV, other members of the LGBT community can learn how to have healthier sexual relations. For the longest time, I simply viewed Pintauro as a former actor, but now? Now I view him as a person who can change the world.
This article was written by Kim Dilisio, a writer for dusk magazine.