show up queen

How drag superstar Trinity K. Bone’t became a success story for Black queer folks living with HIV

This profile is part of Queerty’s 2022 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year, in celebration of National Coming Out Day on October 11. In this special profile, we’re highlighting an individual who is living with HIV and using their platform for good.

Name: Trinity K. Bone’t (Joshua Jamal Jones), 31.

Bio: Trinity K. Bone’t has been performing drag almost her entire life, but it wasn’t until starring in RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s 6th season in 2014 thats she came into international stardom. Since then, the 31-year-old drag legend has amassed almost 500,00 followers on Instagram and recently competed in RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 6, placing 5th—not to mention a few singles and countless TV appearances along the way.

Coming Out: When it comes to queerness, the only “coming out” Trinity K. Bone’t has ever done was out of the womb. 

“I’ve always been out. We always knew. My mom has pictures of me as a kid with her heels, purses, and stuff. And she thought it was funny.” 

Bone’t reflects on a “spell” that occurred when she turned 11 and her mom started dating women. It later opened the door for the young Joshua to pursue a boyfriend without fear at 13. Being gay might not be contagious, but authenticity is—visibility inspires bravery. 

A young Bone’t continued to collect the pieces to the puzzle of who she was meant to become. At a local flea market, she encountered a pageant hosted by local drag queens. 

“Immediately, it clicked,” she says. “I was like, ‘Oh, I can do this.'”

And, honey, Bone’t did. She went on to host intimate parties and perform a medley of numbers for her guests. Bone’t says her mom would supply her with everything she needed to master the art form and mold herself into an unstoppable drag superstar.

“She was a great deal of support for me, and it made it a lot easier to be as good as I am today because I started so early. And the rest has been history.” 

 

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Nobody’s Secret: In 2012, Bone’t attended a ball, and the entrance staff offered free admission to anyone tested on the scene. She agreed in order to save $30 on a ticket. 

“Later on throughout the ball, the guy brought me back, and he was like, ‘I just want to tell you that you were positive. I was like, ‘OK.’ He was like, ‘Are you OK?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I feel OK.’ And the same situation with my mom. Everybody is like, ‘Are you alright?’ I was like, ‘I said I’m fine, d*mn!'”

Bone’t says that by God’s grace (and, perhaps, through the LGBTQ+ community using nightlife as a vehicle to get folks to know their status), she never dealt with the health complications that can arise when living with HIV. That doesn’t mean she hasn’t overcome moments of depression or not wanting to be bothered. She’s a Black queer person living in a morally ambiguous country, after all. 

“But I’ve never really allowed [HIV] to affect me mentally. If I don’t have strength for myself, how can I expect other people to have strength for me?”

 

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A year later, with unwavering determination to not let the unexpected diagnosis derail her purpose in life, Bone’t landed a spot in season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Though she had never had to come out as gay, Bone’t used the competition on national television as an opportunity to awaken a community without representation. She decided to come out for good and disclose her HIV status to her fellow contestants, the judges, and America. 

The RuPaul fan favorite says she needed to share her truth because there wasn’t any visibility for Black queer men living with HIV in the media—or portrayals of them finding success and happiness—despite it running rampant in their community. As a child, she experienced firsthand the courage that comes from seeing someone else unabashedly live their truth, and she used the wisdom from such privilege to become that rare North Star for a marginalized group living in silence.

Bonet placed 7th in the competition, but her legacy couldn’t be measured in dollars or a crown.

“My story was no longer necessarily my story; my story was a lot of people’s stories. And my journey became bigger than me. I started doing this just doing drag, and then drag found something else that was more important.”

For anyone newly diagnosed, she says that once you go through the hurdles of beating yourself up and questioning yourself, get on your treatment and move on with your everyday life. Life doesn’t stop. You will go through the same trials and tribulations and issues, and you have to throw HIV in the bag and keep it moving. 

“I promise you I will not let HIV take me out. It’s gonna be something else—it’s going to be something weird.” 

 

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A post shared by Trinity K Bone’t (@trinitykbonet)

 

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