When Mondo Guerra appeared on Project Runway he never anticipated that both and his work and his life would appear on the catwalk.
Guerra originally appeared on the show during its eighth season in 2010. During one of the design challenges Guerra and his fellow designers were asked to create a new textile pattern, one that evoked a narrative from their own lives. Guerra knew exactly what he had to do—he created a textile that told his story, one that surrounded his life with HIV and the secrecy he enveloped the disease with until that show taped.
"Creativity was the one thing that has always kept me going," he told Windy City Times. "I was afraid and not initially speaking the truth about what that textile meant to me. I had been really lying about who I was as a person and as an artist." Guerra told his story of living with HIV for the past decade and that his piece was a reflection of that journey. "I wasn't really concerned about making my status public at that point. I wasn't sure what would happen. Then once the episode aired, I began receiving emails and letters from fans telling me their stories and letting me know that I helped them with their struggle too. I began feeling that I now had a responsibility to add my voice to the larger discussion of HIV and AIDS."
After appearing on and winning Project Runway: All-Stars this year, Guerra has received even more attention and given a larger voice to the discussion of HIV/AIDS. "My journey has been so different from others but I still felt a sense of fear, shame and loneliness that many people living with HIV have," he said. "There is a huge emotional attachment to the disease and that has not changed but I could change and I did and became honest with myself."
Read more at our media partner Windy City Media